Driving down famously twisty Lombard Street in San Francisco may come with a fee soon.
On April 16, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously OK’d state legislation that requires people who want to drive down the street – known for its 27-degree slant and sharp curves – will have to make a reservation and pay a fee.
The bill has language noting that the street’s immense popularity has become an issue for local residents.
“Due to over two million annual visitors, and daily queuing for up to 10 hours, traffic congestion on and around the 1000 block of Lombard Street in the City and County of San Francisco (known as the “Crooked Street”) has deteriorated the safety and quality of life for residents of the Crooked Street and surrounding community,” reads Assembly Bill 1605, which was originally authored in February.
“It is the intent of the Legislature to authorize the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco to locally approve a reservation and pricing pilot program for vehicles to use the Crooked Street, and to designate an entity to administer the Crooked Street reservation and pricing pilot program to manage traffic congestion.”
The plan is to impose a $5 per car fee, with the rate going up to $10 on weekends and holidays. Visitors would need to register for a time and date in advance.
Lombard Street is in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Though the street itself is quite long, the famous portion is the block between Hyde and Leavenworth streets. Because of the difficulty of driving it, the speed limit is 5 miles per hour.
A neighborhood study conducted in early 2019 presented some options for reducing congestion on the crooked street and included feedback from community members.
One potential bit of good news is that the pricing system will not apply to pedestrians who want to walk down Lombard Street – if they can manage it. Other options not on the table for managing the street are privatizing the street, straightening it out (heaven forbid!) and closing it off completely.
When reached for comment, San Francisco Tourism, the city’s official travel organization, told CNN Travel: “We are always interested in things that improve the visitor experience and are looking forward to learning more.”
While some tourists may be put out at the idea of paying simply to drive a block, the Lombard Street proposal has plenty of similar examples around the world.
In Venice, Italy, the latest fight against overtourism has resulted in an $11 fee for day trippers – people who don’t spend the night in hotels, thus reducing tourism revenue. The local government plans to use the money to offset some of the damage incurred by tourism, including trash pickup.
Two of the world’s most iconic sites, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Taj Mahal in India, have also upped ticket prices while simultaneously introducing “flood control” measures to space out visitors throughout the day.