Two Bay Area state assemblymen said they plan to introduce legislation to prevent the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District from charging pedestrians and bicyclists a fee to access the bridge's sidewalk.
Assemblymen Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, made their announcement at Crissy Field in San Francisco Tuesday morning.
Ting's spokesman Anthony Matthews said the legislation will be introduced Monday.
The proposed sidewalk access fee is among 34 initiatives the District is considering to eliminate a $33 million, five-year deficit and significantly reduce the 10-year deficit projected to be $210 million.
The District's board of directors approved the 2014 Strategic Financial Plan on Oct. 24.
In response to the proposed legislation, Bridge District spokeswoman Priya David Clemens said, "Once our board of directors has an opportunity to review the proposed legislation, they'll be able to formulate a position on the matter. For now, we'll continue the sidewalk fee study as we've been directed until the board requests otherwise."
Ting and Levine said the bill would ensure access to the iconic landmark rather than limit it to only those who can afford to pay the fee.
The proposed bill also preserves an incentive to pursue emission-free methods of transportation that benefit health and the environment, they said.
"As we encourage residents to make alternative transportation choices, a sidewalk toll sends the worst possible message," Ting said.
"The network of parks, paths and trails we've built to ensure public access to the bridge is a legacy that we share with the world. Free sidewalk access makes it all possible. We must keep it free," Ting said.
"There has been no pedestrian toll on the bridge for more than half it's life," Levine said. "This is not the time to restore that toll. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed images of California. 'Nobody Walks For Free' is the wrong caption for that photo," Levine said.
The district was created by state legislation through the Bridge and Highway District Act of 1923 and is subject to regulation under the Act, Ting's spokesman Matthews said.
"The legislation announced by Ting and Levine today will impact this state law," Matthews said.