Cleaning changes irk residents 

The cancellation of street cleaning on a weekly basis in residential areas is sparking criticism from those living in the Marina and Pacific Heights neighborhoods, where the service reduction begins first.

In a cost-saving measure, the Department of Public Works plans to curtail street sweeping in many neighborhoods. The change will affect about 8,500 city blocks, according to the department.

Postcards notifying residents of the change have begun arriving in mailboxes, prompting many to contact the office of Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who represents the two neighborhoods objecting to the reduction of street sweeping from once every week to once every other week. They say their streets will become dirtier.

Alioto-Pier said she would like Public Works’ plan to be postponed, adding that The City’s priority should be keeping the streets clean. She plans to discuss other options with the department this week.

The reduction in street sweeping is rolling out in phases. All residential streets will see a reduction by December. The change saves Public Works about $1 million and was proposed as part of this fiscal year’s city budget.

Department director Ed Reiskin said he’s not surprised by the criticism but the decision to reduce street sweeping was a best-practice scenario. 

“If we were in a fiscal surplus situation, I would have done this anyway,” he said.

Reiskin said Public Works was performing more than enough street sweeping and reaffirmed his stance that sweeping every other week in residential areas will not result in dirtier streets.

But not everyone is sold on that premise. Supervisor Carmen Chu, who represents the Sunset neighborhood, had voted against the plan during a committee’s deliberation of the budget and attempted to “add back” $750,000 during the budget process to fund the sweeping service on a weekly basis.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, however, said he was willing to accept the cut because “there may be some truth” to the claim that residential streets are less dirty than commercial ones, hence requiring less sweeping. He added that some of his constituents like the reduction since they won’t have to move their cars as frequently.

Criticism of the plan is expected to increase in the coming months. Public Works will send out more than 160,000 postcards alerting households in the neighborhoods of the change. It has already sent out 82,000.

Less Cleaning

The following neighborhoods will see street sweeping drop from once per week to twice per month:

  • Richmond
  • Inner Richmond
  • Japantown
  • Sea Cliff
  • Marina
  • Cow Hollow
  • Pacific Heights
  • Presidio Heights
  • West Portal
  • St. Francis Wood
  • Westwood Park
  • Forest Hill
  • Parkside
  • Ingleside
  • Ingleside Terrace
  • Lakeside
  • Laurel Heights
  • Sunset
  • Inner Sunset
  • Parkside
  • Glen Park
  • Diamond Heights
  • Noe Valley

Source: Department of Public Works
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