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San Mateo County officials to San Francisco: Drop toll idea
December 01, 2010, 02:56 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff

Officials in San Mateo County are urging the San Francisco County Transportation Authority to scrap an idea to charge commuters up to $6 a day to enter and exit the city on the county line during peak hours.

The authority meets Dec. 14 to decide whether to continue studying "congestion pricing” along the county line and for San Francisco’s financial district.

The authority is considering three options for charging the toll at the southern gateway with San Mateo County and two separate options for the financial district.

Hillsborough Councilman Tom Kasten, who also sits on the board of San Mateo County’s City/County Association of Governments, drafted a letter that local officials signed to urge the authority to eliminate the southern gateway option from further consideration.

"This would have a significant, negative impact on San Mateo County residents,” according to Kasten’s letter.

The plan would be unfair to Daly City residents who live close to the county line and would also force traffic from the main thoroughfares onto local streets, according to Kasten’s letter.

Daly City Councilman David Canepa said San Francisco is considering the toll because it has done "a poor job in terms of transportation planning.”

He also blasts the authority for not conducting any outreach to San Mateo County officials.

"The city is using this as a tool to generate revenue,” Canepa said. "It is extraordinarily selfish for San Francisco to act this way.”

The city is simply trying to impose its will on its neighbors and is not working with regional partners to improve traffic or develop a better transportation plan, Canepa said.

Although C/CAG Executive Director Richard Napier is not outright opposed to the concept of congestion pricing, he does not think it will work as currently proposed.

"An application across the county line may not make sense,” Napier said.

The concept does work elsewhere, such as in London, Napier said.

"They need to pick the right area with the right density,” Napier said. "The financial district makes sense.”

The earliest the city could set up congestion pricing would be 2015, after a lengthy environmental review process.

The authority will make no recommendations as to a preferred option at its Dec. 14 meeting, said Tilly Chang, deputy director of planning at the transportation authority. The transportation authority is comprised of all members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Money generated from congestion pricing would benefit the transportation needs of San Mateo County residents as well, Chang said.

"The money could be prioritized to better MUNI service and SamTrans service” between the two counties, Chang said.

Early estimates to set up a toll system range from $60 million to $100 million. The toll would generate $60 million to $80 million in profits each year and would be used to improve roads and transit options, according to the transportation authority.

Bill Silverfarb can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.

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