Tourists to San Francisco could see a kink in their vacation plans: The most famous crooked street in the world will be closed to traffic over four weekends this summer.
At its Tuesday meeting, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors listened to Lombard Street residents' complaints about traffic congestion, car accidents, pedestrian injuries and property damage, as looky-loos crane their necks and drive like molasses down the winding street in the Russian Hill neighborhood.
The SFMTA board, at the request of Supervisor Mark Farrell, voted to approve an experimental temporary shutdown of Lombard Street, nicknamed the "Crooked Street," from June 21 to July 13 from noon to 6 p.m. Those dates include the Fourth of July.
The closing affects the crooked part of eastbound Lombard, between Larkin and Leavenworth streets.
Some neighborhood residents would like to see the road closed for more than just a few weekends a year. A neighborhood spokesman said their goal is for the road to be closed most of the summer and half of all weekends.
Caught riding his motorcycle down Lombard early Tuesday, Tom Wolfe said "it's a tough call."
"For the sake of the people who live here, it's a good idea," Wolfe said. "But for the poor tourists, it's kind of tough."
Still, Wolfe sided more with the tourists, adding that if you chose to buy a home on Lombard Street, you should know that "25 tourists staring you in the face when you pick up the newspaper" is just "part of the package."
Others weighed in on NBC Bay Area's Facebook page. Leisa Jones posted, "if you don't want constant traffic going by your front door, don't live on an internationally known tourist attraction."
But Filipina Viina Canasa wrote that the city shouldn't shut Lombard down because it's the "main place where people go to see and visit."
While the temporary shutdown is a pilot program, the board will also see if it makes sense to make the closures a longer term solution. The board also considered seeking state legislation to allow San Francisco to gate Lombard Street.
Local traffic, taxi cabs and pedestrians will still be allowed.
The issue has been formally debated since 2000, according to the SFMTA report. Other possible solutions have also been proposed including gating the street, creating a pedestrian mall, privatizing the street, prohibiting right turns on Hyde Street, and closing Lombard between Van Ness and Polk Streets during peak traffic periods.
- Saturday and Sundays in June: 21, 22, 28, 29
- Friday 4th of July
- Saturday and Sundays in July: 5, 6, 12, 13