A pricey bureaucratic process that’s littered the national press with San Francisco jokes has come to an end, as a survey and pilot program has led SF Public Works to choose the Slim Silhouette as the city’s new public trash can design.
We’ve been following the story of SF Public Works procuring a new trash can design for a full year and a half now, since the $20,000 trash can prototypes first came before the Board of Supervisors in July 2021, and whose price tag was rubbished in the national press. In fairness, those prototypes were lowered to a $12,000 cost — and the per-unit cost will be much lower when they're mass-produced — but the pricey custom models still drew jeers, because existing trash can models were cheaper. Nonetheless, Public Works persisted and put competing prototype models all over town in July of this year, with public survey and feedback results playing a role in which of the six different designs would be the city’s new official trash can design.
On Thursday, SF Public Works announced the winner. “Public Works announced today the selection of the durable, tamper-resistant and easy-to-clean ‘Slim Silhouette’ model as the City’s preferred new public trash can design,” the agency said in a release. That Slim Silhouette model is seen above and below.
“We’ve gone through a comprehensive feedback process, and we are excited to be moving forward with the new public trash can design,” interim Public Works director Carla Short said in that same announcement. “The new design will be one of our tools in improving the street and sidewalk cleanliness in San Francisco.”
And while a different model got the largest number of top ratings in some surveys, Public Works took other forms of feedback inot account. “Across all feedback, Slim Silhouette was the clear favorite and most responsive to the design criteria,” they said Thursday. “It was the most successful trash can in being rummage-resistant and easiest to keep clean from graffiti and debris. The Slim Silhouette design will be outfitted with sensors that will send an alert when the can is nearing capacity and needs to be emptied, reducing the chance that trash will overflow onto the sidewalk. In addition, with its slim side profile allowing it to be less bulky and fit on narrower City sidewalks, survey respondents deemed the design as the most aesthetically pleasing of the six.”
But since the process was long, and ultimately cost $550,000, the announcement of a winner is not drawing many high-fives or champagne toasts. “Let’s hope this long, drawn out process — that never made common sense — leads to cleaner streets,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen told the Chronicle. “San Francisco needs a Christmas miracle.”
But folks, that may be more of a Christmas 2023 miracle, as the process of replacing the cans still has plenty more red tape ahead. “The next steps in the procurement and mass production of the Slim Silhouette design are to identify the funding sources and move through all necessary approval processes, for instance, the City’s Civic Design Review Committee and the Historic Preservation Commission,” according to Thursday's announcement. “Public Works then will develop and release a Requests for Proposal for the mass production of the new can."
Image: SF Public Works