City to target another 100 blocks for cleanup 

Mayor Gavin Newsom promised when he came into office in 2004 that he wouldn’t "give up until our streets are clean and green." Three years later, San Francisco has myriad initiatives in the works to repair sidewalks, plant trees, clean commercial corridors and create citywide street standards.

One of the programs is called the Clean Corridors program, an initiative through The City’s Department of Public Works, which began in November, targeting 100 of San Francisco’s most unkempt commercial blocks in a $1.8 million cleanup effort.

At a meeting with residents at his re-election campaign headquarters last week, Newsom told potential voters that before the Clean Corridors program he had been unsuccessful in keeping the streets clean.

"I couldn’t look you in the face and say you should think about me being re-elected on getting the streets clean," Newsom told the group.

The program has been so successful, Newsom said, that it will be expanded to include another 100 blocks.

Targeting such eyesores as graffiti, faded curb paint, cracked sidewalks and litter, the Clean Corridors program is focused on 19 commercial corridors in districts throughout San Francisco. Paid for with general funds, 20 monitors with the DPW have been hired and assigned to maintain and inspect the corridors.

As a result of the monitoring, according to the DPW, 419 citations, with fines totaling $73,325, were given out to property owners for dirty sidewalks, for businesses not having a trash can outside their front door if they sell food, and for littering. In addition, 318 citations were given to property owners with sidewalks in need of repair — with the option to get the work done themselves or have a contractor sponsored by the DPW do the repairs.

Today, another city-sponsored street initiative will be launched, called the Better Streets plan. According to Adam Varat, project manager with the Planning Department, the Better Streets program will host a series of community meetings to gather residents’ ideas about how to improve neighborhood streetscapes.

The Better Streets plan, as well as the Clean Corridors program, are both projects under the umbrella name of "The Livable City Initiative," which also includes tree-planting and greening projects, traffic calming efforts, pedestrian safety improvements and a "Community Challenge Grant" matching program for neighborhoods that work to beautify their streets and sidewalks, according to an organizational chart for the initiative.

Departments and agencies involved in various aspects of The Livable City Initiative — which is overseen by the Mayor’s Office and his director of city greening — include Public Works, Planning, the Public Utilities Commission, the Department of the Environment, and the Municipal Transportation Agency.

"There’s a large work group and then there’s subgroups — the Better Streets, the Great Streets, the Clean Streets — all of it is part of the same narrative," Newsom said. "And that’s the reason why we have a greening czar to focus [on] that and connect all those dots."

Tom Radulovich, the executive director of the San Francisco nonprofit Livable City — which was started before Newsom came into office and is not associated with The City’s initiative — said that while there have been "encouraging signs," that various city bureaucracies were starting to work together on the street and sidewalk improvements, "there’s still a very, very clear lack of coordination."

Newsom: News racks ‘disgrace’

Replacing freestanding newspaper racks with green consolidated racks is a component of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Livable City Initiative.

To date, 198 of the new fixed green news racks — which hold six or more different publications — have been installed downtown and in other parts of The City, Newsom announced at a meeting at his campaign office last week.

Calling the existing clusters of independent news racks a "disgrace," Newsom said another 325 green racks will be added in the next couple of months, with a goal of adding up to 1,000 racks to "dramatically change the streetscape."

The racks are owned by Clear Channel Communications, which pays for them with rack advertising revenue, Newsom said.

The plan to put up the consolidated racks was in the works before Newsom came into office, but was stalled due to a lawsuit filed by newspaper companies. Preventing the placement of freestanding news racks on city sidewalks restricts publications from distributing

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