San Francisco has a real problem. In fact, you could say that it stinks. That problem is that there’s too much feces on the sidewalks in San Francisco.
The city has fielded about 15,000 calls regarding turds on the streets since January 1 — an average of 65 calls every day! And it’s not just irresponsible dog owners, though they certainly are part of the issue. No, San Francisco has to worry about human fecal matter, thanks to a homeless population that runs rampant with not enough places to go to the bathroom.
The poop problem is so bad that San Franciscans have grown accustomed to watching their step to avoid piles of the nasty stuff. And now, the city has approved a new squad of sanitation employees to take care of the waste matter in neighborhoods where the issue has gotten particularly out of hand.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed spoke with Heather Knight of the San Francisco Chronicle about the new team of poop cleaners: “I’ve been talking to the Department of Public Works director on a regular basis, and I’m like, ‘What are we going to do about the poop?’” she said.
“[Public Works director Mohammed Nuru] and I talked about coming up with some different solutions,” she explained. “I just want the city to be clean, and I want to make sure we’re providing the resources so that it can be.”
Additionally, the city has allocated $1.05 million to build five more public toilets to add to the 22 already located in different neighborhoods. One of the problems with these restroom stations, called Pit Stops, is that they’re only open during typical business hours, leaving the overnight period for the homeless to do their business out in the open.
Homeless people are also using the Pit Stops for purposes other than the original intent. People nap in them or use them to relax in other ways, and one volunteer who helps take care of them says that he has seen the Pit Stops used for “target practice.”
One entrepreneur who is working to help the homeless with hygiene told the Chronicle that the “poop patrol” is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough.
Doniece Sandoval, the founder of an organization that provides mobile facilities to the homeless population in the area, said, “We need our streets cleaned up, so I love that they’re doing the Poop Patrol,” she said. “But there’s no doubt about the fact that we need more public bathrooms. Everywhere we can, we need to make them available. For our unhoused neighbors and everyone in the city, when you need to be able to find a facility, it shouldn’t be this massive challenge.”
Excrement in the streets isn’t a new problem in San Francisco. As far back as 2016, the Bay Area Rapid Transit authority dealt with feces on escalators, a struggle that continues to this day.
It’s a disgusting issue to talk about — and it’s tough not to chuckle like an 8-year-old at the mention of poop. But the underlying issue is bigger than dirty streets.
Reliably liberal San Francisco hasn’t done enough to solve the problem of homelessness. Instead of cracking down on homeless people fouling up the streets, leaders choose to throw up their hands and focus on cleanup. Rather than create an atmosphere where these folks can get jobs and/or mental health treatment and better their lives, the city just accepts that people are going to use the sidewalks as toilets.
Yes, homelessness is always going to be a problem. But San Francisco’s leadership has made its choice to put up with the problem as it is, as opposed to working harder to decrease the number of homeless and make it less of an issue. And that’s a stinking shame.