It's that time of year again! 2003's Prop C mandated that the beautiful City of San Francisco issue an annual report on the state of our dear sweet streets and sidewalks, and here that is, once again: The Street and Sidewalk Maintenance Standards Annual Report.
To produce the report, issued last week for Fiscal Year 2015-2016, inspectors from contractor JBR Partners walked 183 selected routes in town — about half of them commercial, half of them residential — at the midpoint in the week between street cleanings. Compared to FY 2014-15, these inspectors found less litter and grime on streets, with about twice as many routes free from "excessive" litter.
That's the good news, here's the bad: The big three hazards on streets — feces, needles, and condoms, or FNC as they're known in the biz — were spotted more often than last year along residential routes, though inspectors found conditions to be roughly the same on commercial routes.
For another metric, the City’s SF311 customer service center fielded an increase in reports about feces and the like on streets, suggesting a palpable uptick in "FNC" sightings. In fact, 311 calls grew by 25 percent in FY 2015-16 to reach an average of 34,480 requests per month.
Going by 311 calls, reports of needles saw a 41 percent increase across the city, moving the proverbial needle quite a bit. Last year saw 2,527 reports of needles, and this year there were 3,551. The SF Public Works "Hot Spot" team, which actually performs needle cleanups, also noticed a big uptick here, counting internally 16,000 needles picked up in FY2015 and then 23,300 in FY2016 — an increase of 40 percent.
Human waste reports were up 39 percent, with District 6 bearing the brunt of that.
311 requests regarding broken glass were also up, tied to car break-ins, by 24 percent this year. That includes an astronomical jump after April and May media coverage brought attention to the issue of broken glass and car break-ins, possibly skewing the numbers.
Graffiti was also up according to the report. So who's responsible for cleaning up this mess? Mostly the answer is Public Works. Per the report, "among the twenty-two street and sidewalk standards evaluated, the Public Works department is generally responsible for the maintenance of the streets and Public Works assets located on the sidewalks." To keep up and help "operationalize" findings, the report recommends that the number of street and sidewalk evaluations each year be increased.
But trash, needles, and shit on city streets don't just spontaneously generate: A large factor in all of this is that San Francisco's population is up 8 percent since 2010, with 60,000 more residents as of January 2016. "This continued growth of people living and working in San Francisco places additional demand on the City’s service systems," the report explains. More people means more trash, and maybe it also means more people to complain about crap on the street. However, the report notes that the increase in 311 reports far outmatched the increase in new 311 users. Aw, crap.via the Office of the Controller