As we’ve discussed several times here at Hot Air, San Francisco has a serious problem with homeless people using the sidewalk as a toilet. Last week I noted that the city’s hotline was receiving 78 calls per day about feces in the street. Now the city is swinging into action by launching the Poop Patrol, a special crew of proactive pooper scoopers which will start making the rounds next month. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

It sounds like silly elementary school banter, but it’s real. San Francisco is about to launch the Poop Patrol.

In about a month, a team of five Public Works staffers will begin patrolling the alleys around Polk Street and other hot spots in a vehicle equipped with a steam cleaner.

They’ll begin their shifts in the afternoon, as the city starts losing its sheen from overnight cleaning. The Poop Patrol’s mission? To spot and clean piles of feces before anybody complains about them.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” explained Public Works director Mohammed Nuru. “We’re actually out there looking for it.”

We’re all out there looking for it, our eyes trained on the sidewalks as we walk so as to avoid that awful squishy feeling.

The fact that you need eagles eyes (or moon boots) to walk the streets of San Francisco is obviously not a good sign. Last month a major medical convention that brings millions of dollars into the city announced it would stop returning because of the drug use and threatening behavior that is another aspect of the homeless problem.

The Poop Patrol is the brainchild of the city’s new mayor, London Breed, who promised dealing with the city’s homeless problem would be her top priority. In addition to the patrol, the city is committing $1 million dollars to the construction of 5 new public toilets to go with the 22 that are already available. The city is also refurbishing the existing toilets which were first installed in 1995 and will extend the hours so more toilets are available late at night.

Will this help? Maybe, but there’s that old saying: What you subsidize, you get more of. In this case, the city isn’t exactly subsidizing poop, but they are subsidizing the failure to deal with the underlying problem which is too many homeless people, many of them with mental problems or addictions, living on the streets.

Mayor Breed tells the Chronicle at least some of the poop people see on the streets is the result of dog owners who don’t clean up after their animals, despite the fact that failure to do so has long been illegal. Maybe that’s just an excuse, but if it’s not, the Poop Patrol will also give those dog owners even less incentive to deal with the problem themselves. Now they can rely on a crew with power washers to clean up for them. So I wouldn’t be shocked to learn, a few months from now, that the poop problem in San Francisco had actually gotten worse. In the short term though, the visibility of the problem might decrease a bit.