The saga of what were originally the widely derided $20,000 trash cans is back in the headlines, as a City Hall committee has put the final approval of the “Slim Silhouette” bins on hold over vandalism concerns.
We thought it was the end of the $20,000 trash can soap opera in December, when a citywide internet poll to determine the winning trash can determined that SF’s new trash can would be the stainless steel, ovular “Slim Silhouette” model. San Francisco was the butt of much trash talk over this two-year-long selection process, though the price of the prototypes was eventually driven down to “just” $12,000 per trash can, and at full production, each unit is expected to cost $3,000 and have a 25-year life span.
But now the trash-can controversy is back. The Chronicle reports that the SF Civic Design Review Committee has put the production of the new trash cans on hold, over concerns the bins themselves would get trashed, vandalized, and carry high maintenance costs.
“We’re talking about [spending] millions of dollars of city money, and it’s a graffiti magnet,” committee member Patrick Carney said at Monday’s meeting, before the commission declined to take a vote allowing the bin’s installation to move forward.
Carney himself had apparently taken some photos of one of the cans at Sutter and Leavenworth Streets, which had been pretty thoroughly vandalized just during a brief "testing" period. It was coated with stickers, graffiti and, per the Chronicle, “a phrase denouncing the cost.”
But SF Public Works, who will ultimately be responsible for the cans’ upkeep, is confident they can alleviate the commission’s concerns. “We don’t think it’s going to be much of a wrinkle,” department spokesperson Beth Rubenstein told the Chronicle. “Commissioners made it clear they really like the design, and that’s great … their concerns about maintenance are understandable.”
The production process of these “Slim Silhouette trash cans is simply on hold for another month or so — and even without this delay, the city hasn't even selected a manufacturer yet to produce them, which may not happen until next year.
The committee will consider the same vote to move forward on the bins at their June 19 or July 17 meeting, likely with some more tough questions for Pubic Works about the bins’ upkeep.
Image: SF Public Works