In the late 1960s, John Phillips of the folk-rock band The Mamas and The Papas wrote and produced a song to lure teens and young adults craving a gentle counter culture climate to the streets of San Francisco. Following the iconic line, “In the streets of San Francisco, gentle people with flowers in their hair,” droves of “flower children” arrived searching for their little slice of Nirvana.
San Francisco may want to remix that song today – as a warning to locals and visitors – that they may need an extremely fragrant nosegay before going outside between now and September when the first ever government budgeted urban poop patrol hits the streets in search of human feces.
Yes, I did say poop patrol. And, no, this is not satire.
What a Load of Crap
A city that demands an income of at least $350,000 to afford a marginal home has finally resorted to employing warriors of the walkways to carry steam cleaning machines and rid the city of number two – which is newly minted Mayor London Breed’s number one concern, as she has told reporters of dodging a steaming pile in front of her own home.
At first blush of the issue, after taking the oath of office, Breed assured her citizens she would improve the streets of her beloved home by asking the ‘poopertraiters’ to “clean up after themselves.” Great plan when approximately 39% of the city’s 7,500 plus homeless are mentally ill and 58% are unsheltered.
The war on feral feculence began in earnest when a 20-pound bag of the smelly stuff was abandoned on a street corner in the City’s Tenderloin District. Of course, the photo went viral on Twitter and worldwide media outlets called attention to the plight of San Francisco while putting an unbearable amount of pressure on Breed.
But it’s not just the mayor’s problem – it is apparently the top grievance in the city by the bay, as at last count, there have been nearly 14,600 complaints of randomly delivered defecation since the beginning of the year. It’s such a minute by minute problem that the city created a 3-1-1 web page that allows bay area urbanites to lodge non-emergency poop complaints.
Downtown Defecation League
And that’s where the brilliant idea of instituting a poop patrol and adding $750,000 to the city’s now over $11 billion budget.
Department of Public Works director Mohammed Nuru says the city will now be on the hunt for human waste, hoping to clean streets before complaints are made. It is quite a science:
“So, what happens is we’re going to take one of those crews out and try to get ahead of those calls and look for these locations so that hopefully we can get less numbers of calls coming in.”
Okay, Bill Nye’s science guy-style, but a well familiar step in the right direction.
And as Breed explains, “We have the data that shows where most of the complaints are for poop clean up.”
True, as a pop-up niche market of entrepreneurs have created a poop app available for download, giving up to the minute bowel movement reports at the touch of a button. Visitors and residents somewhat removed from the downtown defecation league now can consult a map for their feces free footpaths.
Beginning next month, a team of five public works staffers will begin patrolling the Civic Center, Tenderloin, and Mission Districts (yep, Zuckerberg lives there) and “hot spots” in a vehicle equipped with a steam cleaner, power washers, and a big vat of disinfectant. If it is successful, the program will be expanded.
But why not solve the problem instead of aiding and abetting the unhoused? Optics, my friends. City officials would rather the images of poop go away quietly instead of the actual problem. They are viewing the situation as more of a nuisance than a systemic issue as thousands suffer in their iconic cable car streets.
The true villain is, of course, the state of California, whose elected officials are allowing over-regulation, massive taxation, an out of control housing market, and no middle class paying jobs. But they are busy with providing illegal aliens sanctuary, banishing straws, and bashing President Trump – they don’t have the time or fortitude to tackle exposed excrement.
The poop patrol may help keep the streets clean, but it won’t solve the problem of homelessness.
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