San Francisco

Ocean Beach Trash Can Experiment Irks Neighbors

Angry neighbors of San Francisco's Ocean Beach are accusing the feds of trashing the beach - by removing garbage cans.

In October, the National Park Service removed all garbage cans from about half of a 3-mile stretch of the beach in an experimental move that officials thought might motivate beach-goers to take their trash with them.

It’s not working, neighbors say.

"If you’re here at 7 a.m., it looks like Tijuana," resident Mike Martinovich said. "It’s the worst run beach in California, right here."

Martinovich has lived his whole life a few blocks from Ocean Beach and has been documenting the garbage. The summer season has always been bad, he said - even with the trash cans.

Now, it it has become worse, said another longtime resident, Jennifer Murphy.

"This is an urban area; this is a heavily utilized beach," she said. "I don’t see the garbage cans being taken out of Crissy Field."

The park service said maintenence crews have been reporting that the experiment is working.

"They found that actually there’s less trash than there had been during the period that trash cans were in that area," said Howard Levitt, a park service spokesman. "It may seem counterintuitive, but that’s the experience with it."

At Baker Beach, near the affluent Seacliff neighborhood, the park service covered trash cans, and one resident said trying to get people to take their trash home is silly.

"Nowadays, people are so lazy they don’t do that," said Amanda Gabaldon. "You’re lucky to get them to walk to a trash can, let alone take it with them."

Despite the complaints, the park service plans to keep the stretch of Ocean Beach without trash cans through the summer, a move Levitt said will be reversed if reports from maintanence crews indicate it isn’t working.

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