back to article Quit that job and earn $185k... cleaning up San Francisco's notoriously crappy sidewalks

Everyone knows that America's big cities and especially San Francisco live in their own financial bubbles. Average rent in the City by the Bay is nearly four times greater than the US average, coming in at $3,750 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. The cost of living is 80 per cent higher than the rest of America. A typical …

Bronze badge
Coat

As long as it doesn't hit the fan...

17
0
Silver badge

Or roll downhill.

10
0
Trollface

Or the radiator grille of the cleaning van.

8
0
Silver badge

Though usually it floats to the top...

10
0
Silver badge
FAIL

$72k per year, not $185k

"... you will earn a base salary of $71,760 a year. Add in benefits including health insurance, pension and so on and it brings the package to a rather enticing $184,678 a year."

That's not how salaries are stated in the US. If someone in that job claimed on a mortgage application that they made $185k, they'd be guilty of bank fraud. They'd have to put down $71,760, unless they had significant overtime, which in municipal jobs, many salaried workers are eligible to get.

In addition, the employer contributions to their pension & health care are not taxed, so their gross (non-SS capped) income reported to the IRS is also $71,760 (W2 Box 5, "Medicare wages & tips"), with an additional lower number that has their pre-tax retirement/health contributions removed (W2 Box 1, "Wages, tips, other comp.").

I know misrepresenting the salary structure makes a sexy headline, but please don't insult us. Anyone who has budget authority at a US company knows the rule of thumb for how much a full-time employee who gets full benefits really costs the company (direct salary, benefits, G&A, etc.) is take the employees gross salary and multiple by about x2.5.

So yes, the reason your PHB is reluctant to add an FTE to the headcount is if that person is in a job where the going rate for their gross salary is say, $100k/year, that FTE really costs the company about $250k/yr.

18
1
Silver badge

Re: $72k per year, not $185k

Incidentally, similar reason for hiring contractors in the UK rather than employees

6
0
Bronze badge

Zuckerberg is proof

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: $72k per year, not $185k

On the other hand, it IS how you compare FT employees to casual contractors. So it's an entirely legitimate comparison between employee costs and minimum-wage workers.

4
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Or roll downhill.

This is San Francisco we're talkin' about, of course it will roll downhill...

...right into the bay.

2
0
Silver badge

"Though usually it floats to the top..."

They all float, down here...

0
0
Bronze badge

in the UK we used to say

where there's muck there's brass

it appears they have REALLY taken that to heart in the Bay

18
0
Anonymous Coward

This is really good sht.. You talking shit? Gimme a hit of that sht...

Wait... How many kinds of sht are we talking about here? This reminds me of a comedy sketch that once covered the A-Z of sht as a word, used from getting a high to taking crap to starting a fight etc... Was it Dave Allen???

5
0
Silver badge

Re: This is really good sht.. You talking shit? Gimme a hit of that sht...

You don't know shit

12
0
Silver badge

Re: This is really good sht.. You talking shit? Gimme a hit of that sht...

George Carlin also did some comedy on this.

4
0

I bet you still need 7 years Swift experience to apply

20
0
404
Silver badge

What does Taylor Swift have to do with... nm

4
0
Silver badge

"Swift experience"

And Agile as well (so as not to step in it).

9
0
Anonymous Coward

They should really try to get to the bottom of the problem rather than trying to just wipe it away.

26
0
Silver badge

You mean they've gone about it arse about face?

14
0
Silver badge
Joke

It certainly seems like a crap solution.

7
0
Silver badge
FAIL

That's some seriously hard of thinking

They think having shit stacking up and washed away looks better than opening homeless shelters.

Seriously, are property/rent prices so high in SF that adding up all the millions they're spending on hosing down shit wouldn't get them enough shelters? And presumably as it's the city they should have some buildings somewhere they can turn into shelters anyway.

10
1
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

The article says this:

"a repeated refusal by residents to cough up enough money to deal with the jump in homeless folk"

But the REAL problem is LITERALLY one of LAW ENFORCEMENT, or better stated, SELECTIVE law enforcement (i.e. NOT enforcing the law on 'the homeless'). Because of bleeding-heart liberal policies, San Francisco TOLERATES a bunch of people loitering and camping out in public spaces and using the streets as a toilet.

So you ARREST them, FORCE them to leave town, and it'll stop. But NOOooo, the guilty-rich "feel sorry for them" and now "the homeless" [which used to be called 'hobos' and 'transients' and 'street people'] can get away with quite literally ANYTHING that regular rent-paying citizens could NEVER get away with.

The best solutions for "the homeless problem" are a 2 edged 'carrot and stick' solution. First, you deal with the scoff-laws by arresting, fining, jailing, etc. and ENFORCE the laws EQUALLY. Second, you provide INEXPENSIVE housing for people who are TRULY 'down and out' combined with required counseling, the requirement to look for work (and accept it when offered), the requirement to take medications for treating mental illness, no drugs, no alcohol abuse, etc. i.e. "follow rules" or they're OUT of the program. [Keep in mind nearly all of 'the homeless' are eligible for some kind of public assistance; they're just choosing to use it all for drugs/alcohol/tobacco and live on the street because they don't like "rules", and they choose San Francisco because they CAN]

Cities that do the carrot/stick approach generally spend LESS MONEY doing it 'that way', than with any of the other ideas being tried, and have a reasonably high success rate at actually getting homeless people off of the street and into productive lives.

But that's not what they do in San Francisco. Nope. They let 'the homeless' RUN WILD and CRAP IN THE STREETS and pretty much do whatever they want. Because they 'feel sorry' for them due to some misplaced false-guilt for being well off. Yeah, that word 'feel' again. It does _SO_ much _WRONG_.

NOTE: 'inexpensive housing' should require roommates, like a 1 bedroom studio apartment with 2 beds in it. Converted hotels generally work well for this purpose. It shouldn't be luxury, but it should be 'better than a tent' with an actual toilet instead of the street, and decent enough that it's not a 'slum', and if you fail the program by not following the rules, you're out and subject to arrest and/or removal from city limits.

8
69
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

So you ARREST them, FORCE them to leave town, and it'll stop.

Ah, police as social workers. So put officers on poop patrol. Maybe ticket them with FPNs (Fixed Pooping Notices) and fines.

So you arrest them. Then you tie up officers to take them to the nearest nick, book them in, charge them with something that probably doesn't result in a custodial sentence and let them go. Fining someone with no money's pretty pointless, although you may be able to jail them for non-payment of fines. There, the person would have a bed, food and toilet but jailing someone isn't cheap.

And AFAIK, you can't just run people out of town any more, especially when California's promising sanctuary cities (bring your own portaloos).

But that's politics. San Fransisco's got some interesting challenges with reconcilling it's social policies with basic economics. It's tech boom's lead to gentrification and unaffordable housing, so increasing homelessness. It's paying silly money for poop patrols because it's public sector pay's got out of control, hence the massive benefits cost on top of salaries. That's playing havoc with it's public finances and massively underfunded pension liabilities. It's also leading to an exodus of people leaving California due to it's high cost of living, which will further impact on it's revenue projections.

A more practical approach would be to build affordable housing, especially sheltered housing where homeless people can be treated for problems like drug or alchohol addiction so they can lead a less chaotic life and find their way back into society.

37
2
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

So you ARREST them, FORCE them to leave town, and it'll stop.

What you seem to want is NIMBY and it doesn't work. The ones arrested might move on to the next town or city but there's new ones hitting the streets all the time. And the banned ones usually come back after the new town starts tossing them out.

A big part of the problem in our town is the homeless druggies.

Is there an answer short of shooting them? If so, it doesn't look like anyone has found the best solution.

14
1
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

Homeless shelters, affordable housing, help with giving up drugs, help with applying for jobs, help getting back on an even keel. Yeah, I know, it's communism.

Instead we have the finest brains available to humanity believing that hosing down the streets and dropping them off outside of town fixes the problem.

30
2
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

Heh, it's not communism, it's socialism. So fits the Californian ethos. Which currently seems to be a knee-jerk response that sweeps away some visibile signs of a much larger problem.. Which is a humane problem.

But question for the natives.. Suppose SF found some land. The city probably owns some, or potentially use eminent domain to claim some. It builds some sheltered housing blocks with social workers to clean up the residents. Can it use policy tools like rent controls or just making sure the apartments aren't hit with high property taxes? I'm assuming they're also part of the reason why California's got negative population growth.

6
2
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

But question for the natives..

Some cities tried that back in the 60's and 70's. Didn't turn out well. They became hotspots of crime, drugs, and gangs. There were a lot of building torn down in the 90's because they were just unlivable. Appliances stolen and sold, copper wiring, you name it, if had any value it was stolen by the residents.

6
1
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

That usually happens when all housing are concentrated in one place, exacerbating the problem. If you want to help people up the ladder, you don't put them on the lowest rung all in one place and expect them to climb up by magic, you have to spread the housing around the city. You also can't leave the kids to their own devices, otherwise if there's nothing to do they will form gangs.

13
0
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

Same thing happened in the UK with brutalist towers designed as social utopias. Those, and US 'Projects' didn't work out as intended. But hopefully lessons were learned from those, and problems avoided. I doubt the solutions are easy, but if the problem's lack of affordable housing, then building some would seem an obvious place to start. But it's also where there needs to be a political will, because left to the free market, the incentive's to maximise property developer's profits.

Sometimes it seems to have worked, eg a lot of affordable housing was built during WW2 to support the war effort and house factory workers. There were challenges, eg Rolls Royce workers striking when promised housing wasn't delivered for it's shadow factories. That created a fair amount of 'blue collar' housing around the US and other parts of the world.. But with the collapse of manufacturing, it's own employment problems.

But it's a problem cities need to solve. So here we have crazy salaries & benefits packages, probably inflated due to cost of living. Same with other SF public/key sector workers. Cities face the challenge of being able to attract or retain those workers, but not let costs spiral out of control. Otherwise that just increases the problem of paying those salaries and pensions.. Something California has problems with.

It's also why I'm curious about policy levers like property tax. At the moment, there's a bit of a perverse incentive to have high property prices, if that translates into high property taxes. Same is probably true with the UK and our Council Tax system.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

"So you ARREST them, FORCE them to leave town, and it'll stop."

I really don't know where to start in refuting your rant.

Let's start with calling you a heartless bastard, eh? Maybe then we can move onto your assumption that all these homeless people are immigrants to the city, attracted by the bright lights and gold sidewalks hoping to score enough to get blasted on drugs and alcohol and might not be actual residents, possibly for generations, who on losing a job, can no longer afford the housing they grew up in.

Sadly for you, you actually made a couple of really good suggestions on how to deal with the problem, but you degraded those points hugely by wanting to send in the storm troopers to "deal with them".

19
5
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

"Homeless shelters, affordable housing, help with giving up drugs"

They don't want to give up drugs. Shelters don't work because they often have rules. Like 'No drugs'. And in dormitory-like shelters, the people who most want to avoid heroin addicts are other heroin addicts. They steal from each other and get into bum fights.

Tiny housing works to a point if it's what's known as 'wet housing'. But most neighborhoods don't want that nearby.

5
8
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

So you ARREST them, FORCE them to leave town, and it'll stop.

I saw this sort of thing in one of Sylvester Stallone documentaries. You know, the one where he's a Vietnam vet going to a small town to pay a visit to his comrade and the local authorities thought it wise to arrest him.

That bio-pic didn't end too well, as I recall.

12
0
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

They don't want to give up drugs. Shelters don't work because they often have rules. Like 'No drugs'. And in dormitory-like shelters, the people who most want to avoid heroin addicts are other heroin addicts.

Cart before horse episode here.

One of the main reasons why most homeless are dependent on alcohol and drugs is because that's the only thing that gets them through the abuse, the beatings, the cold nights, the discomfort, and the perpetual hopelessness of their situation.

A good proportion of the homeless, it turns out, happen to have mental health issues and need proper care and support and not being turfed out onto the streets.

Making vulnerability and illness illegal is something that I would expect from North Korea and not North America and the United Kingdom.

11
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

Short answer Dan is yes. Rents are that high.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

A good proportion of the homeless, it turns out, happen to have mental health issues and need proper care and support and not being turfed out onto the streets.

That's part of the tragedy. Another poster pointed out that it's a 'right' to refuse medication and/or treatment. AFAIK though, it's still possible to section someone in the US.. But I'm guessing there's also a shortage of psychiactric beds and funding to treat those people. But if people are made homeless, it's a fair bet they'll develop mental health issues due to that.

I still think building basic housing where people can get shelter and treatment would be the humane approach. Yes, it'd probably have to have rules against booze & drugs but they need not be too draconian, as long as the residents are trying to clean up.

I also agree with another poster that the 'charity' sector can be partly to blame.. I've heard that sometimes described as the 'lunch bunch', where organisers can have fun arranging charity dinners and events for each other.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

OK! Then we go completely FASCIST! Corporate and State solving the problem together!

You ARREST the poopers, inject microchips with GPS, Inertial locators and Opiod/Alakaloid/Alcohol sensing technology DEEP into their bodies where they CANNOT be taken out easily. Then you send them all to an island in Aleutians chain of islands near Alaska where the -40C of winter and the +10C of summer will keep the poopers occupied whilst they dry out from their drunkenness and de-drug themselves by harvesting and hammering rock piles to make into Lego-block like fire bricks for fast-raised homeless shelters which can be constructed by them as their living spaces when they are ready to re-integrate into society.

Once they come back from their 2 to 4 year sentence, the body-embedded GPS sensors can be auto-tracked by software to keep the arrestees confined to specified urban/suburban areas and the Opiod/Alakaloid/Alcohol sensing tech can track whether they're going off the rails again and have the system get social workers/police re-involved. The chips can ALSO be programmed to introduce "sickening agents" into their blood stream if they detect drugs/alcohol or if the user goes into an out-of-bounds geographic area so that users are physically DISABLED when the bad behaviour is detected.

Whether you like it or not, THIS actually IS ONE POSSIBLE SOLUTION! If people cannot behave themselves, then they FORCIBLY NEED TO BE SHOWN HOW to behave in a well-ordered society.

Now which one of you communist/fascist/egghead technocrats want to START by voting in such policies and/or start designing/building/funding the technology to make this happen so you DO NOT HAVE TO look at or smell people poop and the downtrodden people making said poop on your streets?

1
1

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

Just to correct, California does not have "negative population growth" - since the 2010 census California has grown at 6.1%, compared to the US overall at 5.5%. Further compounding all these issues.

0
0
Thumb Up

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

Socialism? Well I guess in this case the workers certainly do own the means of production.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

"A good proportion of the homeless, it turns out, happen to have mental health issues"

This is true. And it's a major part of the reason why they can't be expected to look out for themselves. We ended civil commitment programs in the 1960s. We closed the institutions and tried setting up outpatient facilities. The end result of trusting people with mental health problems to look out after themselves was that they'd just walk out the front door looking for a drink or a fix and never come back.

"that's the only thing that gets them through the abuse, the beatings, the cold nights, the discomfort, and the perpetual hopelessness of their situation."

We have people with at least as hopeless situations as these. They waded across the Rio Grande with nothing but the clothes on their back. Many of them are picking up odd jobs in front of the local hardware store. Others are picking fruit in the orchards. In ten years, they will have a pickup truck, a lawnmower and a landscaping business. Their children may very well go to college.

0
1
Silver badge

Re: homeless druggies

'Twas ever thus - actually the percentage of 'homeless druggies' was not always the same, maybe there is a solution.

0
0
Silver badge

Long-term fix?

Maybe it will fix itself in the long run.

Remember what Gabriel García Márquez said:

“...the day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole (sic)"

23
0
m-k

re. mayor London Breed

shit, surely some mistake, a typo perhaps (London-bred?!)

:D

2
6
Silver badge

Re: re. mayor London Breed

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Breed

0
1

If you are going to San Francisco

Be sure to wear some shoes upon your feet

Summer time there is shit upon the street

23
0
SVV
Silver badge

Where are the local tech hype-sters?

For such a problem to be solved by a bunch of people in a van must be a humiliation for the local tech leaders. How on earth nobody immediately suggested a driverless AI human shit cleaning drone is a shocking indictment of the lack of fresh vision amongst the leaders of the world hub of innovation. Or they could just build some toilets, I suppose.

30
0
Silver badge
Devil

Re: Where are the local tech hype-sters?

"Or they could just build some toilets, I suppose."

Sadly, it's likely (in my opinion) that the scoff-laws wouldn't even walk 10 feet to use one. So now we crowd the residential sidewalks with port-a-potties every 20 feet (ok maybe not THAT many, but still). Somehow I think that's not enough of an improvement.

[so what are those 'port-a-potties' called in the UK? 'port-a-loo' ?]

how come nobody else seems to be advocating LAW ENFORCEMENT as a solution?

3
32
Silver badge

Re: Where are the local tech hype-sters?

" LAW ENFORCEMENT as a solution?"

Going by a lot of recent articles LAW ENFORCEMENT probably would eliminate the problem, as in ELIMINATE with a gun.

Police unless they are specifically trained to deal with the problems that often go along with many homeless people, don't really know how to deal with them, cops usually don't want to get down and dirty with smelly homeless types so they'll end up shooting them.

I suppose that is a kind of answer if they're all dead there won't be a problem.

Perhaps SF could modify a couple of garbage trucks, then go for the Soylent Green option. Then they would have a source of food for the remaining homeless.

Or maybe they could try caring?

28
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: Where are the local tech hype-sters?

This is a perfect solution for an autonomous bot. Unfortunately SF has already banned these from the streets alleging these cause congestion. And we all know that politicians would never admit their decisions are bad. So they see the man poo as means to keep the pavements open (as people walk around the mounds) which is "success" in their books.

Otherwise there would already have been 20 Bay Area startups getting funding for de-pooping bots that are so efficient they catch the lumps before they hit the pavement. Using alien probing tech from neighbouring Nevada there would be no mess at all!

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Where are the local tech hype-sters?

"[so what are those 'port-a-potties' called in the UK? 'port-a-loo' ?]"

Yes, Port-a-Loo, actually a genericised brand name. A "pottie" is what a toddler uses for toilet training or while still too small to use the proper toilet, so over here, hearing an Amercian say "port-a-pottie" tends to bring a smile to our lips,

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Where are the local tech hype-sters?

RE: "LAW ENFORCEMENT as a solution?"

Ah, good ol' Judge Bob and his buddies Dredd, Death, and Trump - The conservative answer to every problem; Stamp On It! Point the Law Giver at the problem and it either goes away somewhere else or becomes a different problem which the shit shifters in their van can later clean up. Either way; Sorted!

It's a sociopathic solution which, in the long run, leads to a sociopathic society even worse to live in than the current one.

The homeless shit on pavements. Bob shits on people.

14
2

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018