Getting tough for cleaner streets in Redwood City

After few vehicle owners complied with a request that they move their cars for street cleaning one Friday each month, Redwood City officials are ready to make it mandatory.

Residents in larger cities such as San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland are required to move their cars on certain days of the week — or face a heavy fine.

While Redwood City has signs that prohibit parking on street cleaning days, the city has not been putting any enforcement onto the request.

“Enforcement of parking restrictions for street cleaning would require a large expenditure of resources, both financial and personnel,” the city says on its Web site. “The costs … for enforcement personnel for ticketing and/or towing are prohibitive, especially under current budget limitations.”

Asking citizens to move their cars — without a penalty if they don’t — is not working, city officials said. 

“People aren’t moving their cars,” Redwood City spokesman Malcolm Smith said. “In winter, not moving your cars becomes a problem because the leaves and debris build up and clog the drains.”

The city is ready to start issuing citations to those who do not move their cars on street sweeping days, said Smith, but has started with just one neighborhood, as a pilot program.

The enforcement test affects Douglas Avenue from Spring Street to Middlefield Road, as well as Marshall Street from Chestnut Street to Maple Street, according to city documents.

“Nobody moves their cars,” Antoinette Wilkerson, 50, a resident of Douglas Drive, said. “They might as well ticket them.”

Parking is restricted in these areas on one day a month, from 7 a.m. to noon, excluding holidays, to allow for cleaning.

The change, Smith said, allows the city to put teeth into the street cleaning ordinance.

Street sweeping is not just a matter of keeping the neighborhood tidy. The task reduces the pollutants that get into stormwater runoff and prevents leaves, debris and litter from clogging the storm drain system, according to city documents.

Sweeping once per month also complies with the standards and regulatory requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, the municipal San Mateo County wide National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, and the Countywide Stormwater Management Plan.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board voted in favor of regulations that would require cities to take steps to make sure fewer plastic bags, chemicals and other pollutants get into storm drains and creeks, and ultimately into San Francisco Bay.

A water board official says cities that don’t meet the requirements would be facing fines ranging from $25,000 per day to $10 per pound of trash.

Redwood City used to conduct neighborhood street cleaning every other week, but reduced the public works service in residential areas to once a month in 2003 due to budgetary issues. Street sweeping in commercial areas was also reduced from three times per week to two.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com
 

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