By many measures, San Francisco is a world-class city. It’s a tourist mecca that boasts 25 million visitors each year. It’s home to wonders of the modern world – the Golden Gate Bridge and its iconic cable cars – as well as powerful progressive politicians, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Governor Gavin Newsom, and U.S. Senator (and presidential hopeful) Kamala Harris.
The broader San Francisco Bay Area can also claim Silicon Valley and its booming economy.
But the city itself is in trouble. Today, San Francisco hosts an estimated homeless population of 7,500 people. Affluent sections of the city have become dangerous with open-air drug use, tens of thousands of discarded needles, and, sadly, human feces.
Since 2011, there have been at least 118,352 reported instances of human fecal matter on city streets.
New mayor, London Breed, won election by promising to clean things up. However, conditions are the same or worse. Last year, the number of reports spiked to an all-time high at 28,084. In first quarter 2019, the pace continued with 6,676 instances of human waste in the public way.
We reached out to San Francisco Mayor London Breed for comment regarding our findings and the continued trajectory of the human waste problem. This column will be updated with any response or comment.
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com plotted all reports of human waste since 2011 using latitude and longitude address coordinates of all cases closed by the San Francisco Department of Public Works.
Using our interactive map, just click a pin and scroll down to review the results (all closed cases by neighborhood) rendered in the chart beneath the map. Available data is the result of resident reporting to the city’s 311 dispatchers during the years 2011-2019.
There were 118 city neighborhoods affected. However, 72-percent of all cases since 2008 were reported in just ten neighborhoods: 1. Tenderloin (30,863); 2. South of Market (23,599); 3. Mission (19,150); 4. Civic Center (6,232); 5. Mission Dolores (4,096); 6. Lower Nob Hill (3,654); 7. Potrero Hill (2,489); 8. Showplace Square (2,022); 9. North Beach (1,826); and 10. Financial District (1,810).
Thirty ZIP codes in the city were affected. However, just four locations had the highest concentration of human feces – between 10,000 and 23,000 events each.
1 ZIP Code 94102:
Since 2008, over 23,800 cases of human waste were reported in the heart of San Francisco. There were 13 reports of human feces in front of City Hall; 17 events at the U.S. Marshals office; and 67 reports at the Tenderloin police station on Eddy Street.
Affected neighborhoods include Civic Center, Hayes Valley, Tenderloin, Cathedral Hill, Lower Haight, and Downtown/ Union Square. Avoid the intersection of Eddy Street and Jones Street – this address was the third all-time with 366 cases.
2 ZIP Code 94103:
Human waste was reported 19,275 times within this prominent San Francisco ZIP code. Roughly one in every three cases citywide occurred in the two ZIP codes of 94102 and 94103 – they border each other. Neighborhoods affected include Mission, South of Market, Mission Dolores, Showplace Square, and Mint Hill. Avoid the address 786 Minna Street, as it ranked sixth all-time with nearly 300 events since 2008.
Plotting the case reports of human waste in ZIP 94103 since 2008. Click here to review the interactive map.
3 ZIP Code 94110:
Since 2008, there were 13,450 instances of human waste reported. That’s an average of 135 reports per month for the last 99 months in this area. Neighborhoods affected include Noe Valley, Peralta Heights, Mission, Potrero Hill, Dolores Heights, and Bernal Heights. The intersection of Mission Street and Sycamore Street was the all-time highest address with over 930 events – and 20 Sycamore Street was second all-time with another 450 cases.
4 ZIP Code 94109:
A prestigious area home to such landmarks as the San Francisco Maritime National Park, Great American Music Hall, The Regency Ballroom, and the Liholiho Yacht Club. There were 11,287 instances of human waste within this ZIP code. Neighborhoods affected include Tenderloin, Cathedral Hill, Lower Nob Hill, Polk Gulch, Russian Hill, and Pacific Heights.
Graph showing year-over-year increases in the human waste challenge in San Francisco.
The city has taken steps to crack down on the crisis. Over the last year, the Department of Public Works instituted what the San Francisco Chronicle called a “Poop Patrol.” Consisting of five teammates, the Chronicle estimated each employee earned a hefty $184,000 in pay, perquisites and pension benefits.
Using this payroll information, we quantified the taxpayer cost of each human waste case last year: $32.75. And that’s not including the sunk costs in trucks, fuel, and equipment such as the steam cleaning unit.
At the turn of the 20th century, San Francisco was called “The Paris of the West.”
Locals were more humble and self-titled San Francisco as the Golden City. Pardon the expression, but lately there has been a brownout in the Bay Area.
San Francisco politicians have been among the most vocal proponents of reducing inequality across the nation. That’s a noble endeavor, but perhaps, their struggle should start closer to home.
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