City to step up Mission district street sweeping 

An increase in litter and garbage in the Mission district has prompted a proposal to step up the area’s street sweeping program — and residents and business owners are concerned with how the changes might affect them.

If adopted, the plan would increase street sweeping from once a week to as many as three times a week in some areas. For example, Alabama Street between 24th and 25th streets would change from 6 to 8 a.m. street sweeping on Mondays to a Monday, Wednesday and Friday sweeping at the same time.

The 200 blocks included in the proposal, in an area extending from Division Street to Cesar Chavez Street and from Potrero Street to Valencia Street — are The City’s dirtiest, according to Mohammed Nuru, deputy director for Operations at the Department of Public Works. The proof is in the statistics: Mechanized street sweepers picked up 198 tons of material in the Mission and Potrero neighborhoods in Januaryof 2005 and 744 tons in 2006 — a whopping 377 percent increase. Illegal dumping has also doubled.

Community complaints to the 28-CLEAN tip line have also increased 80 percent.

Nuru said the changes are not a ploy to increase ticket revenue, because the MTA gets that money. The department won’t need more than the $8 million budget set aside for street sweeping, because the area already uses extra sweepers to handle garbage overflow, he said.

"Something needs to be done, and we’re going through a process to figure out how to respond to concerns the department has by working with the community," Nuru said. Three public hearings will be held on the proposal, the first on Wednesday.

Despite concerns about cleanliness, many residents are concerned that the increase will make parking more difficult than ever and won’t address the causes of littering.

"This is not what we need. It’s a facile solution to a bigger problem. I’d like to see some enforcement and some kind of tracked education program," said Judith Burkowitz, Mission District resident and member of East Mission Improvement Association.

Gabriella Lozano, owner of L’s Café on 24th Street, says she is concerned because her business opens at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, and new street cleaning increases would affect three of those days.

"My busiest hours are from 6 to 11:30 a.m., so I would have to leave my business to move my car until 8 a.m. and my customers wouldn’t have anywhere to park," Lozano said.

Milt Ganes, who has owned a business since 1969 and owns apartments on Harrison Street, says he is "ambivalent" about the proposal. Ganes said if the proposal goes through he would like to see communication and quarterly meetings between the Department of Public Works and representatives of neighborhood groups.

"We have a bad problem, and everybody wants all the help they can get. There has to be some middle ground," Ganes said.

eeconomides@examiner.com

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