SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Transportation officials are set to vote on a proposal to charge a toll for cars stopping at Treasure Island, but some who live and do business there say such a plan would cause profound harm to their community.
Anyone who has passed Treasure Island recently has seen the great changes that have taken place over the past few years. On Sunday, Hope Williams, a resident of the island for 13 years, witnessed the demolition of another building. She said she was not against all new construction.
“I welcome redevelopment without eviction from the community. I welcome redevelopment without taxing my family for it,” Williams said.
Williams was talking about a plan to charge a $5 toll for cars entering and leaving the island. It’s a $10 charge for visitors – $17 if they also have to pay a bridge toll. And it’s happening in a community with no schools, supermarkets or gas stations.
“For a neighborhood that depends on everything in the city – on everything – why would you isolate them? It makes no sense,” Williams said.
The plan would exempt those who started living on Treasure Island before 2019. All others would be charged the tolls, including residents, visiting friends or family and those participating in hobbies, such as Sunday’s rugby tournament at the ball field.
Then there are the businesses. Jim Morowski owns Treasure Island Wines and said the toll would not only drive away customers and employees, but also commercial suppliers.
“If we bring materials into my production facility here, they’re going to have to charge us that extra,” he said. “Some of them are already saying they don’t want to come here if there’s a toll because it’s an extra cost for them.”
Why does this happen? Officials say it is to reduce vehicle congestion and improve public transport.
“A ferry. That’s what he’s going to basically support,” Morowski said. “So people who can buy multi-million dollar homes here later can take a subsidized — heavily subsidized — ferry to San Francisco .”
The plan calls for the toll to come into effect in 2024, long before most new construction is even finished. This makes residents think it has more to do with fundraising than fighting congestion.
“It’s just one neighborhood in San Francisco,” Ed Hall said. “They don’t charge in other areas to visit so I just think it’s kind of a money grab.”
County officials did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority, Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency and SF Board of Supervisors were supposed to vote on the toll in February and again on March 8, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute. No new voting date has been announced.