Earth Day clean-up in the Excelsior / Breed wants federal support for safe injection sites

It's Thursday, April 22nd.

Hey there, San Francisco. Happy Earth Day. 

To celebrate, I went to the Excelsior and checked out one of the city’s “deep clean” initiatives in action. We covered the program (known officially as CleanCorridorsSF) last month, but as a refresher, San Francisco Public Works carries out these clean-ups in a different business district each week. Today’s took place on Mission Street between Persia and Silver. 

What makes the program unique is its comprehensiveness. For around four hours, twenty workers or so descend on an area, picking up trash, steam cleaning sidewalks, weeding, tearing down signage on street posts, painting street posts, and removing graffiti. And while all this happens on the sidewalks, “flusher” trucks spewing water and suds are driving up and down the block. Street sweepers are close behind. 

“It’s like a kind of choreography,” Public Works’ head spokesperson Rachel Gordon tells me. 

It is impressive how good some of these folks are at their jobs. Gordon likened one steam cleaner to a “contortionist” for being able to reach seemingly unreachable spots. Another worker scrapped weeds out of a narrow sidewalk crack with ease. 

I liked Justin, who’s picked up trash in San Francisco for 15 years and typically responds to 311 requests around the Sunset District. “It’s a great job,” he said. “It helps the city. It helps the people. I love it.” 

The deep cleans are not cheap. The city spends $7,000 each time they happen, which Gordon maintained on Thursday mostly comes from personnel costs. CleanCorridorsSF is also not guaranteed to continue. Gordon said today’s clean-up in the Excelsior was the last until the program can secure more funding. She did seem confident that would happen soon, though. 

I guess the big question with CleanCorridorsSF, or any trash effort really, is what happens when the crews leave? How long will it take for the trash to build up again?  

Justin’s take on this was probably the best. 

“I’ve been doing this for so long,” he said. “I just know that the trash is there, it’s not going anywhere, and so I might as well just deal with it.” 

And with that, onto some news… 

The Chronicle’s Trisha Thadani reported on Thursday that Mayor Breed, along with a group of mayors from across the country, wrote to the Biden Administration this week to ask for clarity around its stance on sites sanctioned for drug use. 

The letter from the mayors said that the “threat of federal enforcement” was one of their “greatest disincentives” for opening safe injection sites in their cities. 

“And we ask that you end that threat,” they wrote. 

San Francisco has considered opening a safe injection site for years, and Mayor Breed even made it one of her campaign promises back in 2018. 

Technically, the sites are still illegal in California, though State Senator Scott Wiener’s legislation, which would change that in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, moved one step closer to passing this week. 

Quick bits: 

  • 😔 A journalist unearthed Tucker Carlson’s 1991 Trinity College yearbook and found that the Fox News host listed being a part of the "Dan White Society." Dan White was the former San Francisco Supervisor who shot and killed then-Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. (SFist

  • 🐭 Researchers have suggested that house mice be eradicated from the Farallon Islands, in part, because they are spreading the of seeds invasive plants and attracting too many owls. (Examiner)

  • 🏊 A local man swam to Alcatraz and back 400 times in four years. To mix things up, he’s now swimming in all sorts of directions to make art on his GPS watch. (SF Gate

And finally… Here/Say Media put together a good video about the new La Cocina food hall in the Tenderloin, highlighting the female chefs behind Boug Cali, Los Cilantros, and Teranga. If you have five minutes or so, it’s worth a watch. 

That’s all for today! Ah, but one shameless plug before you go. My wife Kelsey works for Impossible Foods and I thought they put together something cool today for Earth Day. 

It’s called “The Birds and The Trees” (like, The Birds and The Bees) and it’s a guide for kids to talk to their parents about climate change. Pretty clever. 

It’s obviously pro-meat-made-from-plants, but I thought (even for adults) it included some stats, myth busters, and links to articles about climate change that you might find helpful. If you’re interested in this stuff, enjoy. 

Alright, talk soon. - Nick B. 

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