Truckers targeted in damage-control fee

A city lawmaker wants drivers of trucks that get stranded on San Francisco’s steep hills to reimburse The City for the cost of removing the rigs.

At least once a month, the bottoms of large vehicles get snagged on the concrete when their drivers attempt to navigate a steep street, said Bill Barnes, spokesman for Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier.

When it happens, police officers and out-of-town tow trucks are called to the scene, which costs The City money, Barnes said. Alioto-Pier said it’s unfair that taxpayers, not vehicle owners, have to pay for those resources — and for the cost of any damage done to the street.

“Certain streets and roads are made for big vehicles and [some] are not,” Barnes said.

Trucking companies, such as professional movers, are supposed to abide by weight limits on San Francisco streets. Police say they provide out-of-town companies specific routes to reach city destinations.

However, some unwitting truckers rely more on their GPS or online maps to get where they need to be, which can put them into trouble on hills, San Francisco police Sgt. Troy Dangerfield said.

“Some get over going down, but when you get to the bottom you have the same issue as the road goes flat,” Dangerfield said.

The process of removing the trucks can snarl traffic, he said.

Professional drivers need to follow road rules and use common sense or pay the price, according to Alioto-Pier.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Alioto-Pier formally asked police Chief George Gascón and Department of Public Works Director Ed Reiskin to recommend “a procedure to recover costs … when large trucks ignore posted signs and become stranded on The City’s hills.”

The supervisor made the request only days after she saw a moving truck stuck atop a hill at Broadway and Divisadero Street and spoke to an officer at the scene about the arduous process of removing the truck.

The move is the latest in a string of efforts by lawmakers to recoup costs for cash-strapped city services. In July, lawmakers unanimously approved a new fee on motorists who are at fault in accidents. The fee pays for the cost of cleaning up debris and fuel.

The City also slapped fees on cigarette sales as a way to recoup the cost of cleaning up discarded butts from streets.

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