Mayor to step up anti-litter drive 

Two years ago, Mayor Gavin Newsom gathered city officials and community members at the corner of 16th and Mission streets to launch a battle against The City’s "litter epidemic."

Since then, hundreds of people have received citations for littering and more trash is making its way to the dump. There is not, however, any less trash on the streets or in the parks, officials say.

"I can’t pretend that The City looks cleaner. I don’t think it does," said DeeDee Workman, executive director of San Francisco Beautiful, a nonprofit that gives grants for neighborhood improvement projects. "The City, in fact, looks quite dirty."

Despite a wide array of efforts — including the placement of 20 neighborhood ambassadors who physically sweep the streets and notify officials of trash and graffiti problems, and the establishment of additional community benefit districts, which privately fund neighborhood improvements — litter is still clogging the gutters, blowing in the wind and stinking up The City.

Newsom is scheduled to kick off a "Stop Litter" campaign this morning at E.R. Taylor Elementary School to augment the larger citywide project.

Workman, however, said a large-scale education campaign on litter should be developed, as some residents simply do not know they shouldn’t throw trash in the streets.

At a bus stop one day, Workman said she watched a young boy throw an empty potato chip bag into the gutter. His mother, who was standing there with him, didn’t say a word.

"There is a sense among some people that that’s OK," Workman said.

In 2006, the San Francisco Department of Public Works picked up 26,220 tons of trash from the streets, up 2,000 tons from 2005. In 2004, the DPW picked up 23,451 tons.

Since 2005, the DPW has issued 2,900 citations, totaling $190,000, for various violations under the litter campaign, DPW spokeswomanChristine Falvey said. Tickets range from $80 to $1,000 and can be given to an individual for littering a single piece of trash or to a bar owner for cigarette butts dirtying the sidewalk.

The litter problem hasn’t improved in The City’s parks either.

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Dennis said the high level of trash is taking a "psychological toll" on park employees.

"It should be a no-brainer that when you go to the park, you put your trash in the appropriate receptacle," she said. "We need [public] buy in or else we’re going to live in a filthy, filthy place."

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