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Op-Ed Supports Congestion Pricing for San Francisco
"Safer streets, less pollution, better transit, bustling business districts — San Francisco can have it all," writes Josh Wilson to open an opinion piece published recently by the San Francisco Chronicle.
But like many other cities around the state and the country, increased amounts of driving and reduced transit ridership are producing congestion, carbon emissions, and air pollution. "Something needs to change, and somebody has to pay," concludes Wilson. "Congestion and zone pricing offer a path forward."
Interestingly, Wilson brackets land use as a means to the solutions sought by congestion pricing by mentioning the political and bureaucratic quagmire of planning and development policy in the city: "One solution is to build around transit rather than automobiles, but that process is bogged down in the eternal battle between preservationists and pro-density developers. We need to raise the stakes while they get their issues sorted out."
A key theme throughout the opinion piece is the specificity of the proposed congestion pricing plan. The proposal targets specific streets, with specific concession made for certain kinds of drivers, and concern for specific outcomes that could be desired less desirable consequences of a congestion pricing scheme.
As noted by Wilson, "touristy Lombard Street and hustling, bustling Market Street" are under consideration as test cases for congestion pricing, following in the footsteps of New York City in implementing a transportation policy previously only encountered in European cities. The Overton window for congestion pricing has also opened in other U.S. cities like Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles in recent months.