On San Francisco Shit Patrol


The progressives love the frisson of imagining dystopias where a few plutocrats enjoy their own private paradise while the masses are condemned to a Hobbesian life of squalor, poverty, violence and hopelessness. Think a typical third world megalopolis, or popular culture with its “Blade Runner” or “Hunger Games” cityscapes – or San Francisco. Thanks to a combination of the never-ending tech boom and enlightened urban policies, San Fran is the city now known for its oases of Googleness while the city itself is drowning in feces:

A website and related app that allows local residents to request maintenance or non-emergency services from the city has received 16,034 complaints with the keyword ‘feces’ in the last week at the time of this writing, and many pertain to human waste in public places.

Additionally, words and phrases synonymous with ‘feces’ are found in thousands more grievances.

Many of the complaints also connect the fecal matter to vagrants and homeless encampments – a sight all too common now across California.

Fear not, however; the civic authorities have it all in hand (so to speak):

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.)

Yes, you read that right. People cleaning up the apoocalypse on the streets of SF are earning more than you and me, maybe even more than you and me combined. You might also be shocked – but not surprised – that “mandated benefits” are 1.6 times the size of the base wage.

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.

It seems then that the two most lucrative, if not rewarding careers one can aspire to in San Francisco are an IT engineer and a poo cleaner.