Although San Francisco contains approximately 5,300 city blocks, Mayor Gavin Newsom has chosen the dirtiest 100 for a $1.8 million targeted cleanup effort.
Taking aim at such eyesores as graffiti, faded curb paint, cracked sidewalks and litter, theClean Corridor program is focused on 19 commercial areas in districts throughout San Francisco. Twenty newly hired city monitors have been assigned to maintain and inspect one corridor each, from 12 to 9 p.m., Thursday through Monday, said Mohammed Nuru, a deputy director for the Department of Public Works. The workers were hired through a pre-apprenticeship program for young adults living in The City’s impoverished southeast sector.
On Wednesday, Newsom gave the media a tour of one of the chosen corridors, Irving Street between 19th and 25th avenues. Nuru pointed out some of the recent improvements already made since the program began in October, including a painted fire hydrant, gravel placed at the base of a tree and a litter-free street.
At one point, Newsom and Nuru inspected several sidewalk panels that had lifted at an angle an inch or so above the surrounding concrete. The property owner would be held responsible for repairing the sidewalk in front of the building, said Nuru, who estimated that the work would cost between $400 and $700.
“In the next few months, we’re going to come down with enforcement,” Nuru said.
Property owners with sidewalks in need of repair will be given the option of having the work done themselves or having a contractor sponsored by the Department of Public Works do the repairs, Newsom said. The building owner would then have to reimburse The City.
Building owners are already required by law to remove graffiti from their property, or pay for a city worker to do the job.
The City’s new focus on sidewalk repairs has some property owners concerned, said Ken Cleaveland, an official with San Francisco’s Building Owners and Managers Association.
“Before The City starts assessing property owners for repairs to sidewalks, they need to share what they mean by an acceptable, clean, repaired sidewalk,” Cleaveland said.
The Clean Corridor program is scheduled to run through June 2007. If it is deemed successful, Newsom will seek to carve out funds from next year’s budget to continue monitoring the upkeep of the designated areas.
Newsom said he is also hoping the targeted corridors will eventually organize themselves into community benefit districts, or CBDs, where building owners agree to pay an additional fee on their annual property taxes for maintaining streets. He said he also hopes to replicate aspects of a program in New York that encourages community benefit districts to hire formerly homeless people to take on street-sweeping tasks.
San Francisco only has one CBD, in Union Square, but three more have been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the Fillmore, Central Market and Fisherman’s Wharf areas.