In San Francisco, you can make a pretty good living cleaning up other people's poop

Last week I wrote about the “poop patrol,” a team of dedicated sanitation professionals who are tasked with responding to the flurry of complaints from city residents about feces left in the street. Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle had a break down of the city’s cleaning budget. It turns out you can make a pretty decent living cleaning up s**t:

The sight of human waste, discarded hypodermic needles, trash and general grime is nothing new to anyone walking in downtown, in the Mission District or in any of a number of other San Francisco neighborhoods these days.

And, as Breed notes, “We’re spending a lot of money to address this problem.”

No kidding.

San Francisco Public Works has a $72.5 million-a-year street cleaning budget — including spending $12 million a year on what essentially have become housekeeping services for homeless encampments.

The costs include $2.8 million for a Hot Spots crew to wash down the camps and remove any biohazards, $2.3 million for street steam cleaners, $3.1 million for the Pit Stop portable toilets, plus the new $830,977-a-year Poop Patrol to actively hunt down and clean up human waste.

(By the way, the poop patrolers earn $71,760 a year, which swells to $184,678 with mandated benefits.)

At the same time, the Department of Public Health has an additional $700,000 set aside for a 10-member, needle cleanup squad, complete with it’s own minivan. The $19-an-hour needle cleanup jobs were approved as part of the latest budget crafted largely by former Mayor Mark Farrell.

The new needle crew is on top of the $364,000 that the health department already was spending on a four-member needle team.

Admittedly, $71K isn’t a huge salary in high-rent San Francisco, but it’s not bad for being a pooper scooper. Given the total cost with all of the mandated benefits, I suspect there must be a pretty good health plan that comes with this. Given the work they’re doing, the health plan seems pretty important.

Actually, I really do wonder why some entrepreneur hasn’t set up a private operation to do this work. Imagine four guys with backpack spray washers who work out of an abandoned firehouse. When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?

I guess it’s a good thing the mayor is taking this head on and trying to clean up. That may make it a more pleasant place for visitors which is important for a city that relies heavily on tourism, but I it’s not going to change the underlying problem, which is homelessness. This is literally just cleaning up the mess left behind.

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David Strom 4:31 PM on November 25, 2022