San Francisco Loves Clean Streets
Jane Kim understands that waste on our streets isn’t just an eyesore, it’s an economic and environmental disaster and a public health crisis waiting to happen. As a Supervisor, she has pushed for additional funding to step-up street cleaning this year and as our next Mayor, she will implement an aggressive plan to clean our streets.
Her San Francisco Loves Clean Streets plan includes three immediate steps to address this problem:
- Partner with non-profit group and Community Benefit Districts to greatly expand deployment of Neighborhood Streets Team which employ homeless individuals to help clean the streets while providing them with job training skills and housing income.
- Double the number of “Pit Stops” in high problem areas to reduce public urination and defecation and cut the risk of disease.
- Double the number of street cleaners.
Kim will also appoint a Clean Streets Director to align and coordinate actions amongst all departments responsible for public upkeep and public health.
In the longer term, she will work with business leaders, non-profits, city agencies and community health experts to put in place the preventative and enforcement measures to stop public street disposal.
Over the last three years, there has been a sharp uptake in reports of trash, feces, needles, glass and other materials on our street. Data compiled by the city indicates this problem has gotten worse over the last three years with 311 service requests more than doubling.
While this problem has been concentrated in central districts (such as Districts 3, 6 and 9), no area of the city has been spared an increase in public trash. District 8, for example, has seen reports of urine and feces double since Fiscal Year 2014; reports of needles have nearly doubled in District 5.
This continued trend poses a serious public health risk – San Diego recently experienced a severe outbreak of Hepatitis A that took the lives of twenty people and infected 578 throughout San Diego County. San Francisco could experience a similar outbreak unless we are able to control the street trash and refuse that spreads disease and sickness in vulnerable populations.
Data compiled from 311 confirms this problem has gotten worse.
Jane Kim has worked to help reduce public waste:
- Working to re-allocate $2.5 million in unspent general funds to public works, to be spent by the end of this fiscal year (June 30).
- Launching the Pit Stop program to expand access to public restrooms.
- Piloting the new Bigbelly trash compactors in Yerba Buena. These bins hold up to 5 times as much trash as regular trash cans.
As Mayor, Jane Kim will work to better coordinate and manage city resources, greatly expand our capacity to clean our streets, and directly address one of the top public health issues facing our city – the lack of available public restroom facilities.
Jane Kim’s San Francisco Loves Clean Streets
Doubling Pit Stops and Public Toilets
Jane Kim helped launch the pioneering Pit Stop program to open public toilets in our most impacted areas. To date, the city has opened 17 Pit Stops throughout the city which are being used approximately 20,000 times a month. As our Mayor, Kim will work to double the number of Pit Stops throughout San Francisco with priority placed on those areas with high numbers of urine/feces reports.
Kim would further propose a pilot program to incentivize business owners to allow the public to use their restroom facilities. Expanding access to toilet facilities is the most effective way to cut down on public waste on our streets and we should look to partner with businesses to provide a solution this problem.
Finally, Kim would work with the Department of Public Works, the Department of Public Health and the Department of the Environment to study how San Diego was able to control its hepatitis outbreak with an eye towards preventative measure (such as public hand-washing facilities) to reduce the odds of an outbreak occurring in San Francisco.
Expand and Enhance Neighborhood Street Teams
Community Benefit Districts have partnered with Downtown Street teams to employ homeless residents to assist in cleaning the streets. Jane Kim believes this valuable program should be expanded with city assistance to deploy more teams throughout the city (with a minimum of one per district and more in highly affected districts).
The individuals employed would earn a $15 an hour, earn job training skills and help connect participants with housing and mental health and addiction services. A similar program in Denver called “Denver Day Works” found that fully half the participants were able to transition to regular jobs (and kept those jobs for more than 90 days). Once the crisis of cleaning our public streets has been stabilized, crews could be put to work on landscaping, beautification or other projects that would further enhance jobs skill training.
Partnering with the city would allow the current program to expand beyond Community Benefit District – although Kim would also consider expanding those districts themselves – providing assistance to more residential areas of the city.
Doubling the Amount of Street Cleaners
Cities like Hong Kong have thousands of street cleaners. San Francisco has 285. We can do better and have the resources to do so. As part of this initiative, Kim would double the amount of street cleaners on our streets.
Appoint a Clean Streets Director
Currently the Department of Public Works is largely responsible for street cleaning but its mission also includes sundry other responsibilities and not all properties fall under its purvue. As Mayor, Jane Kim will appoint a special projects manager – a Clean Street Director – who is directly responsible for ensuring city resources are put to the best use and will be directly accountable to the Mayor and the residents of San Francisco.
Jane Kim clearly understands that this is a looming public health crisis – a hepatitis outbreak like that seen in San Diego could hit hundreds of residents and the fatality rate in such a situation could be high. We must have a coordinated response to clean our streets to also protect our city.
And Beyond: Prevention and Enforcement
As we are able to make in-roads to address the current crisis, Jane Kim will not lose site of the need to make the systemic changes that will help prevent this situation from occurring again. That includes working with top-notch designers and environmental experts to place more trash bins – and to have those bins be ones that cannot be opened except by authorized collectors, helping homeless residents find housing so they are not living on the streets and providing better public outreach so residents are aware of services like large item removal.