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California governor vetoes Lombard Street toll bill

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Newsom says world-famous street should remain free to all

Cars wind their way down Lombard Street in San Francisco, a crooked street flanked by homes and apartment buildings.
Lombard Street.
Photo by AP Photo/Eric Risberg

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have allowed San Francisco to inflict a toll and reservation system on the world-famous crooked stretch of Lombard Street, an attempt by SF-based Assemblymember Phil Ting to mollify area residents who resent jockeying with sightseers near their homes.

Newsom, who once represented Russian Hill on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, issued a veto statement for Ting’s assembly bill 1605 over the weekend, saying that he was “acutely aware of the need to address congestion and safety” in the neighborhood, but that the toll system “creates social equity issues.”

“Access to this iconic attraction should be available to all,” wrote the governor.

AB 1605 passed the state assembly on a final 54-23 vote in September and the senate on a vote of 29-11. Overriding the veto requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

Ting introduced the bill in April, dubbed the “Crooked Street Preservation and Pricing Program,” citing a need to constrain “over two million annual visitors and daily queuing for up to 10 hours” on the 1000 block of Lombard.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who represents District Two, pushed for a toll system to control crowds; however, the city needs state backing for such a fare placed on a public street.

Under one proposal considered earlier this year by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, driving down the block would cost $5 on a weekday and $10 on weekends, but would remain free to city residents or to pedestrians.

Ting expressed his disappointment via Twitter, saying “the city is running out of options” on the oft-photographed byway.

Cars winding down a hillside street with multiple sharp turns and switchbacks. In the foreground, people with phones in hand take photos of the traffic.
By car or by foot, tourists clog the famed stretch of street on a daily basis.
Via Shutterstock