A spectre is haunting San Francisco—the spectre of feces.
The Golden City has the second-highest cost of living in the U.S. and a major factor contributing to that fact is its housing crisis. Jeff Kositsky, director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, told ABC in June that homelessness isn’t on the rise, it’s just “more visible.” He said that as development in the area has skyrocketed, “we’re seeing places where homeless people used to sleep becoming offices and housing,” and that’s caused the homeless problem to be more noticeable. Got that? Homeless people had a place where they used to sleep, but now they don’t, but homelessness isn’t on the rise.
All that homelessness has contributed to a notorious amount of feces in the streets as people who don’t have a restroom of their own relieve themselves wherever possible. In typical fashion, authorities in the city would rather handle the image problem than the problem itself. You might be thinking that San Fran should consider bumping property taxes, milking the mega-rich unicorn investors, and building some public housing. Nope, instead it’s forming a “Poop Patrol.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
In about a month, a team of five Public Works staffers will begin patrolling the alleys around Polk Street and other hot spots in a vehicle equipped with a steam cleaner.
They’ll begin their shifts in the afternoon, as the city starts losing its sheen from overnight cleaning. The Poop Patrol’s mission? To spot and clean piles of feces before anybody complains about them.
“We’re trying to be proactive,” explained Public Works director Mohammed Nuru. “We’re actually out there looking for it.”
That’s it. In the land of Herculean tech geniuses and some of the most well-educated engineers on the planet, the solution to the poop problem is five guys going around with a pressure washer spraying down the offensive piles before anyone has a chance to complain. And boy do people complain. According to the Chonicle, people have called the city’s help line to report street dookie 14,597 times since January.
And this problem doesn’t fall squarely on the homeless or the city that does nothing to help people out of an intractable situation. San Francisco’s Mayor, London Breed, told the Chronicle that assholes are also refusing to obey the law and clean up after their dogs.
If the city is only going to treat its poop problem as an annoyance rather than a systemic issue, another obvious solution would be to make more public toilets available. It’s sort of doing that. Earlier this month, it allocated $1.05 million of its $11.1 billion budget to constructing five new public restrooms.
Seriously, San Francisco, get some of those billionaires to stop engineering ways to make us more addicted to their products and tell them they can devise a smarter solution or pick up a pooper scooper. Mark Zuckerberg is right there in the Mission District and we know he cares deeply about public service.