Ubiquitous needles. Photo from October, 2012

The amount of “litter and grime” observed citywide dropped year to year, possibly due to improved response rates, three new street sweepers, and new mechanical sidewalk cleaners featuring steam cleaning units. The report also references the city’s Pit Stop program, which provides public toilets, syringe disposal, and pet waste bags – but perhaps most importantly, includes a staff to man the toilets and dedicated alley cleanup crews. But how did the Mission do on key cleanliness fronts?

Foremost on almost everyone’s mind, of course, is…

Poop and needles

311 request data indicates that cleanup requests regarding human waste went up citywide. While District 6 had the highest count of all, District 9 was close behind, with 2,621 requests. That’s a 37 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile the report cites 752 reports of needles, a 45 percent increase, in District 9. 14th and Harrison streets, as well as the stretch of Shotwell and Folsom streets between 16th and 17th streets.

You can see the map of urine and feces reports here.


The report notes that the average counts of graffiti doubled on private property along commercial routes and tripled on public property that Public Works doesn’t maintain from last year’s count.

Generally speaking, service requests went up Chinatown, the Tenderloin, and SoMa, and Mission north of 14th and south of 23rd streets. Graffiti reports didn’t jump significantly in District 9, but they were concentrated along certain corridors – 24th between Mission Street and Potrero Avenue, and Mission Street between Duboce Avenue and 24th street. Graffiti reports dropped, however, along Valencia Street. Often, the same buildings were tagged multiple times throughout the year.


Illegal dumping reduced in the Mission and surrounding neighborhoods from last year, which Public Works attributes to a concentrated alleyway cleanup effort. That area also saw the biggest improvement in sidewalk litter scores in the city, though overflowing trash bins in residential areas of Districts 8 and 9 drove the city’s score on “fullness and capacity of bins” down somewhat.

Only an average of 83 bins in those areas got passing marks in the city’s evaluation – last year all of them passed muster. The city zone that includes the Mission and surrounding areas saw 878 service orders for overflowing bins, which is more than any other zone.

Broken Glass

Reports of broken glass in District 9 went up to 25o reports, a 32 percent increase, this year.

It’s worth noting, however, that the city’s evaluation and 311 data are at odds over how much broken glass there actually was. It may be, the report says, because the city controller’s office’s reports are based on staff evaluations who go along the route twice a year to document criteria, while 311 data comes from people’s calls for service. Certain neighborhoods, the report suggests, might be more prone to reporting broken glass than others, and one pile of glass might be reported multiple times.

It could also be media hype. Beginning on April 24th and lasting until around June 25th, public reports of broken glass spiked sharply everywhere, corresponding with two news articles from the New York Times and the Atlantic about smash-and-grabs.

The Future

Soon, the report says, Public Works will implement a service management system that will record staff time and actions associated with particular requests for service and analyze the department’s resource allocation. The city will also buy at least three new street sweepers and six more steamer units.

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