San Francisco Sidewalks Graffitied With What Looks Like Feces - NBC Bay Area
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San Francisco Sidewalks Graffitied With What Looks Like Feces

During a survey of San Francisco's dirtiest streets, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit discovered what appeared to be graffiti laced with feces along sidewalks on two different blocks

SF Mayor Says City Is Cleaner Now Despite Rise in Complaints Over Trash, Feces, & Needles

Mayor London Breed says San Francisco is cleaner under her administration and, thus, believes she fulfilled a campaign promise to usher in “significant” and “noticeable” improvements within 90 days of taking office. In comparing Breed’s first three months as mayor to the three months prior, 311 data reflects a rise in complaints concerning trash, human feces, and used syringes on streets and sidewalks throughout San Francisco. Investigative reporter Bigad Shaban reports on a story that first aired Nov. 12, 2018.

(Published Friday, Nov. 16, 2018)

High-priced San Francisco is known for launching trends, however, feces-laced graffiti may be the most peculiar and disgusting one yet.

While surveying parts of downtown San Francisco, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit discovered graffiti that appeared to look as if it were made from feces. The markings were found along sidewalks on two different blocks: 700 block of Ellis Street, between Polk and Larkin Streets, and the 500 block of Larkin Street, between Eddy and Turk Streets. Piles of excrement were also found near each of the markings. However, NBC Bay Area did not test the graffiti to confirm the presence of feces. 

Following the investigative report, some weighed in on social media with their own thoughts on the graffiti. "That's not feces," @TheChiropractor wrote on Twitter. "That's foam caulking that can be scraped off."

Mayor Promised Cleaner City Within 90 Days

The Investigative Unit spotted the graffiti while revisiting 20 of San Francisco's dirtiest blocks. The team surveyed streets and sidewalks in search of trash, needles, and feces. The Investigative Unit first inspected the area in January and repeated the process in early November in order to compare the level of cleanliness before and after Mayor London Breed took office. As a candidate, Breed promised a cleaner San Francisco within three months, if elected. Breed was sworn in more than four months ago on the steps of city hall during a ceremony on July 11.

“There is a huge difference in certain parts of the city,” Breed told the Investigative Unit. “I'm not seeing as much of what I used to before I took office.”

SF Mayor Won't Say When Stepping on Feces Will No Longer be the NormSF Mayor Won't Say When Stepping on Feces Will No Longer be the Norm

Mayor London Breed declined to give specifics after being questioned about a potential time line on when dodging feces on streets and sidewalks will no longer be the norm in San Francisco.

(Published Friday, Nov. 16, 2018)

When Will Stepping On Feces No Longer Be the Norm?

In comparing Breed’s first three months in office with the three months prior, San Francisco 311 data reflects an 8 percent increase in complaints regarding used needles, 3 percent increase concerning trash, and 30 percent increase regarding human feces.  

"I don't think it's because the city is actually dirtier," Breed said. "I think it's because more people are reporting the challenges that exist."

While Breed acknowledges "there is still work to be done" in cleaning up San Francisco, she no longer appears willing to attach any type of time table to future progress. When asked when stepping over feces will no longer be the norm in San Francisco, she quipped, "soon rather than later." When pressed for more specifics, Breed, with a smile, repeated herself, "sooner rather than later."

SF Received Nearly 21,000 Requests to Clean Human Feces Last Year

The mayor recently assembled a new crew dubbed the “Poop Patrol” to clean feces across San Francisco seven days a week. Last year, San Francisco received 20,960 requests to clean human feces from streets and sidewalks.  The number of complaints in 2018 is expected to exceed that figure based on the 11,944 cleaning requests received in just the first six months of this year. 

San Francisco is home to the highest rent prices in the world with the average apartment renting for $3,500 per month, according to a recent study released by Walletwyse, a financial advice website. 

San Francisco has spent more than $308 million cleaning up its streets since fiscal year 2013, yet, the city has struggled to develop trusted metrics to measure its job performance. In 2003, voters approved a measure that requires San Francisco to annually inspect and rate street cleanliness across the city. Over the past five years, San Francisco paid a public relations firm, JBR Partners, more than $400,000 to conduct those inspections.

Reporter's Notebook: Our 'Diseased Streets' investigationReporter's Notebook: Our 'Diseased Streets' investigation

Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reveals new developments in his ongoing ‘Diseased Streets’ investigation.

(Published Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018)

Public Relations Firm Awards SF Nearly Perfect Cleanliness Score

A recent NBC Bay Area investigation revealed the firm awarded San Francisco a nearly perfect cleanliness score for fiscal year 2016-17. As a result, in December 2017, the city concluded the data could be flawed and pledged to overhaul its process for measuring job performance within the city’s street cleaning program. Despite the realization from the city that the data may not be accurate, San Francisco continued to pay JBR Partners to conduct another annual survey for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which resulted in similar cleanliness scores, boasting high marks. The effort to reform the city's assessment process, which began prior to Breed's term in office, is still ongoing.  

JBR Partners has yet to respond to repeated requests for comment.

"Unfortunately, I can't control what's happened in the past," said Breed.  "I can only control what I'm doing now as mayor to move the city forward."

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