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 …

Anonymous Coward

Re: Where are the local tech hype-sters?

Well, we have apps called Tinder and Grindr so what about Strainr or Shitr although technically you could argue it's logging related so maybe log4free or something?

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Re: Where are the local tech hype-sters?

So, being poor and/or ill is now a crime? You seem to be under the delusion that most homeless people choose to be homeless and shit on the streets for fun or to stick to the "man". People who are mentally ill or destitute and living on the streets have no place to go to the bathroom but for some reason still have a need to do so. How about homeless families? Should we arrest the children as well and make them servants to idiots such as you? Working poor in expensive cities like SF simply cannot afford housing. Scum southern states tried to ship their welfare recipients to places like New Jersey and California in the 70s and 80s and it was ruled illegal to do so. No one is voluntarily choosing to live homeless.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Where are the local tech hype-sters?

Frankly it's a breath of fresh air (sic) to read an article that uses the word 'shit', because it's embarrassing how the UK media has decided to use the word 'poo', like we're all five years old or something.

Next it will be 'Council engages workers to clean up wee-wee!'

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Terminator

Scope creep

Yes it's well paid for picking up and disposing of crap and needles. What they fail to mention is phase two when you'll have to start disposing of the bodies...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scope creep

"phase two when you'll have to start disposing of the bodies..."

But think of the lucrative additional freelance work .... before too long you will be driving your Acura NSX to these "additional" tasks where your expertise is required.

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Trollface

Re: Scope creep

It's a Honda NSX, sir.

Acuras are just overpriced Hondas. -Anonymous

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Re: Scope creep

"phase two when you'll have to start disposing of the bodies..."

Or phase 3:

"I'm not dead yet!"

....

"Who's that?"

"Dunno. Must be a software developer."

"Why?"

"He hasn't got shit all over himself."

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Happy

Solution was already animated

King of the Hill episode - Business is Picking Up. The guy used a big vacuum cleaner to suck up the poop...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Solution was already animated

Is it Rule 33 that says if you can think of it, there's an animated show episode of it?

And Rule 34. Yeah, I think that's been done already too.

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Re: Solution was already animated

Rule 3.14159 : Failing all other rules, there's always an XKCD cartoon to fall back on.

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Re: Solution was already animated

King of the Hill episode - Business is Picking Up. The guy used a big vacuum cleaner to suck up the poop...

It was real before animated. Paris used to have dogshit vacuum scooters, I believe that they have discontinued and are now replaced by vans with the vacuum cleaners on.

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Re: Solution was already animated

My mental image is of the "Ghost Busters" - 1980s version - in their affordable on-call vehicle. I can't get rid of it.

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I miss the good old days in San Fran

When you could find a spot in the parking lot at Fisherman's Wharf. And if not there, a spot on the street a little way down the Embarcadero.

And the Exploratorium was free, or free for a donation, and nobody enforcing the donation.

And you could hop on a cable car anywhere, not just at the ends after standing in line for an hour. And the price was the same as a bus ride.

And walk around without stepping in shit.

Yes, I'm that old. And still trying to figure out why San Fran as much appeal as it does. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a nice place, and has a lot of charm. But then, a lot of other places have a lot of charm too. I wouldn't want to live there today.

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Unhappy

Re: I miss the good old days in San Fran

@Blake St. Clare, I've been to SF three times. Once in the 70s as a kid. The Exploratorium was fantastic. The food was OK. It felt safe. Once in 2009 on business. I didn't get away from downtown, but it was clean, felt safe, the cable car was hop-on-hop-off and the food was great. The third time was just a few weeks back on holiday with the family. We were all really disappointed. The streets were definitely dirty and there were a lot of homeless, it had lost that feeling of safety, the food was rubbish and everything was so ridiculously expensive I doubt I'll ever go again. Like, $78 for two of us to go in the Academy of Science, which was pretty meh.

I agree; the good ol' days were soooo much better.

(We were there when London Breed was being sworn in; all that meant to us was traffic issues! I have to say, her name is, um, unusual.)

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Re: I miss the good old days in San Fran

New Orleans is my favourite US city. Quite unlike most other US cities. The cemeteries are awesome (I have a fetish for grave yards, and these have Marie Laveau among their inhabitants, at whose tomb people still leave the weirdest fetishes) and the Voodoo temples are well worth a visit, especially if you have enemies. Cosmopolitan, seedy, beautiful and swelteringly sultry and exotic. They do pretty good parties too.

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Re: I miss the good old days in San Fran

SF was the safest feeling (for me) US city when I lived in the East Bay in the 90s.

Las Vegas was the least safe feeling back then. I couldn't wait to run out of there.

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Pint

Re: I miss the good old days in San Fran

Geoffrey reminisced, "New Orleans is my favourite US city."

Once upon a time, I attended a conference in New Orleans. It was primarily US Military personnel attending. At the start, a wee feisty fireplug of a shouty Gunnery Sergeant laid out the ground rules (presumably for the DoD staff attending). "You will NOT proceed north of Rampart. You will NOT proceed east of Esplanade. You will NOT proceed west of Iberville." All this was delivered with a voice that you'd use when organizing an artillery barrage, by a man that was about 5 foot 5 inches tall and could clearly kill an angry grizzly bear with his bare hands.

I was left with the impression that New Orleans had some 'bad' areas.

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Re: I miss the good old days in San Fran

RE: "I was left with the impression that New Orleans had some 'bad' areas."

Oh, it does. My ex back in Britain was rather concerned when I announced my decision to marry a lady from N'awlins (the correct pronunciation for a Lousy-Anna native). She read an article that claimed the military sent their medics to train in that city because it was a place they had the best chance of treating gun shot wounds; a handy skill for a military medic. I went anyway and I love it dearly. Of course I now live in the woods on the side of a mountain where the only wildlife to worry about are the bears in the back yard. Human wildlife is less predictable.

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$185K vs. $71K

The value of all the benefits, e.g. medical, dental, pension, etc., may indeed add up to $185K, but $71K in gross pay probably translates to $50K (or less) in net take home pay after taxes.

I rather doubt anyone can live in San Fran on $50K. In a house or apartment that is. Clearly a lot of people are living there now sans abode. Or maybe the plan is to hire some of those people who are currently living on the streets. And will still be living on the streets but with $50K in disposable income.

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Re: $185K vs. $71K

'kin 'ell.

It's oft said that US healthcare is expensive, but what the 'eck. I'd love to see the breakdown of the $114k additional benefits into the constituent parts.

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Re: $185K vs. $71K

I don't know the breakdown of those benefits, but you get taxed on the value of health care so your after tax net is probably going to be a lot less than $50K if you're paying taxes on $60K of health care benefits (i.e. a really top notch plan that covers your whole family)

You'd end up having to clean up your own shit because you'd have to live on the streets with the rest of the homeless!

The Nazz: I'm guessing there's probably a defined benefit pension as part of it, those can add up to a lot especially for public sector employees, especially in places where they have crazy setup like working as a cop for 20 years, retiring on a fat city pension, then taking another city job like building inspector or something working it for another 20 years and getting a second pension! Obviously stuff like that isn't sustainable, but it is surprisingly common all over the US.

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Re: $185K vs. $71K

Where do you live that taxes the value of your health care benefit?

I'm not taxed on it where I live now, on the east coast, nor was I taxed on it when I lived on the west coast.

My employer pays about 66-75% of my health care benefit, and I pay the balance, which is withheld from my pay – that's not tax.

And I don't pay any tax to the feds or state for the part that my employer paid. (And don't give them any ideas.)

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Pint

Re: $185K vs. $71K

BSC predicted that these newly-hired cleaners "...will still be [liv]ing on the streets..."

You misspelled part of a word there. ;-)

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Actually SF spends a great deal of money on homlessness

I think they were up to something like $250 million/year. However, the city has a reputation for year-round livable weather, a higher tolerance for drug abuse and public drinking (which is honestly why a lot of SF homeless are in their position.) and is more accepting of what might be thought of as countercultural behavior. Add the SF housing crisis to that, and you have a LOT of homeless people.

The sad fact is that a lot of the homeless people you see on the SF streets are absolutely unable to manage their own affairs anymore, due to a combination of mental illness, drug addiction and alcohol addiction.

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Re: Actually SF spends a great deal of money on homlessness

Add to that the fact that in most parts of the states to the east of Cali give the homeless a one way bus ticket to SF as it is so liberal & welcoming .

And the spending is worse than the number you gave...

For fiscal year 2017–18, San Francisco budgeted $305 million to provide services and housing for the homeless and formerly homeless

In February, the Fire Department requested an increase of $100 million in its budget for next fiscal year to provide emergency ambulance services that mostly go to homeless people

The Public Works Department recently estimated that it spends more than $30 million a year to clean up things like faeces, needles, and tent encampments,

City Hall also spends nearly $38 million a year responding to calls for service regarding homeless people, with the Police Department footing most of that cost

Add to that business NOT relocating https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Vacant-Businesses-Rising-in-San-Francisco-Real-Estate-Agents-Believe-Dirty-Streets-Partly-to-Blame-479041303.html

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Anonymous Coward

Not seeing much extra shit out there..

Some observation from a SF old timer.

There was a hell of a lot more shit on the streets back in the 1980's and 1990's. Mostly in the areas now gentrified. Most of the shit you see on the sidewalks is actually dog shit. The human stuff is in alleyways and doorways.

At any given time there have always been about 5K plus street people. Always. Does not matter how much money the City spends trying to *solve* the problem. For a start 75% of the street people on the streets have *zero* connection with SF. Been here less than a year. Of the other 25% about 15% have only the most tenuous connection with the City and maybe 5% max could be considered being from SF. With any long term connection to the City.

I've seen very few actual homeless people on the streets over the years. Those who lost a roof over their head and have nowhere else to stay. Maybe a few every year. Easy to spot so will always stop to ask how they are doing . The rest are just street people. Drifters, drunks, junkies. petty criminals. And the mentally ill who wont take their meds. The only group I have any sympathy for are the last group, the mentally ill, but due to California's completely fucking stupid "Patients Rights" laws there is zero you can do for them. No point even trying to get a 5150 for them as they will be back on the streets soon after the short term supervision end. In California you cannot compel the 50% of the seriously mentally ill who need active supervision to take their meds. The seriously mentally ill have a right to not take their meds. Nope, I am not making this up . Since the 1970's. Which is when the problem of mentally ill people on the streets first started.

All the rest are on the streets because they chose to be there. There are lots of rehab programs for the winos and junkies but in California, especially after Prop 47/57, there is zero legal compulsion to force them to do rehab and stay clean. So they clutter up the streets. Just like they did before Three Strikes was passed back in the '90.s. Prop 57 removed mandatory drug rehab for those on probation. Result, drug rehab program participation rates drop 80% and the place is soon cluttered up with street junkies.

Finally there has been a lucrative little scam going for the last few decades called the Homeless Industry. Worth a couple of hundred million a year in the City which directly and indirectly employs several thousand people. Nothing like creating a made up problem and then hustling large amounts of money to solve a problem that does not exist and is defined in such a way that it could never be "solved".

It also turns out that the people making most noise about throwing money at the "Homeless" to solve the problem are mostly not from SF either. From some well to do suburb, in SF for less than a decade, before returning to a suburb just like they grew up in. But while in SF they get to act out all the virtue signaling [politics without having to deal with any of the long term consequences of their student union politics after they have moved on.

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Re: Not seeing much extra shit out there..

w gentrified. Most of the shit you see on the sidewalks is actually dog shit. The human stuff is in alleyways and doorways.

Oh, well that's OK then.

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And the mentally ill who wont take their meds. The only group I have any sympathy for are the last group, the mentally ill, but due to California's completely fucking stupid "Patients Rights" laws there is zero you can do for them.

Doesn't that go back to one of Reagan's programs? Or possibly Carter... I recall the Feds doing something about shutting down support to the States. Guess I best go Google some....

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing to do with Reagan..

..either as Governor or Prez.

Although you will hear a lot of people in Cal blame Reagan even though it was Governor Brown (père) who started shutting down the mental hospitals and clearing out the patients in the early 1960's. More than half emptied before Reagan became governor. But it was during the term of Governor Brown (fils) in the 1970's that the key piece of mentally ill "Patients Rights" laws was passed in California. I only heard the real story behind the law about two decades ago because a friend knew one of the prime movers behind the law quite well at the time. A complete raving loony from a very wealthy background who used his money and connections to play off the complete fiction of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and such like to further his own paranoid schemes to stay out of institutions. Those unfamiliar with how California politics has always worked maybe unfamiliar with the utterly bizarre stories like this one that are part and parcel of how business has always been done here.

Anyway. Last week I was on a bus when a schizophrenic woman who had obviously not been taking her meds started a disruption so serious the bus driver asked her to get off the bus. She refused. I knew that the bus driver was seriously limited in what he could do or say but I was nt so I firmly told her to get off the bus. Which she did. If this had happened in Portland or especially Seattle I would have stayed with the woman, called the city Mental Health services dept, and have them deal with her. Getting her the treatment she needed. In SF its a waste of time. Given her attitude she would have refused any sort of help from mental heath services personnel if they were called so it would have been just a wasted few hours for all concerned.

This is why I have come to utterly despise "activists" of all types over the years. I have seen far too often the utter deprivation and heart break caused by these attention seeking middle class narcissists who have utterly destroyed the City over the last few decades with their facile posturing political sloganeering. Those who quietly work in the background to try to alleviate the suffering of these poor benighted people have my immense respect, gratitude, and support. Utterly apolitical, deeply pragmatic, and with a real humanity towards those they are trying to help that is completely lacking in the "activists"

So many dozens of seriously mentally ill people have died in utter squalor on the streets of SF over the last few decades because of these "activists". Because every time any serious step is taken to change the law over the decades to help get these mentally ill people the treatment they need some "activists" group or other files a lawsuit that stops the reform. It was one such lawsuit back in the mid 1980's that first made me aware of this obscene situation.

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This is a high-tech center

Poo-cleaning AI robots when?

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I suppose

The person who takes the job can quite literally say "I've got a shit job"

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The French got there first with the tech:

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

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Smart Cities

Obvious solution for this is for SF to embrace a Digital Smart Cities initiative.

Start with Smart Sidewalks using IoT networks that detect fouling and call upon the nearest Poop Drone Swarm to land collect clean and sanitize the area.

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Pint

Re: Smart Cities

Caff proposed, "Poop Drone Swarm"

Imagine the dribbly bits falling off the gathering mechanisms, onto the crowded sidewalks below...

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Escalating pay scale

Great - now my kid is going to want more money to clean up after the dog...

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Anonymous Coward

Where's that AngelHack guy when you need him?

He can clean it up. With his bare hands.

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Actually...

When I was working with the CFO of a department in San Francisco she stated the rule of thumb is 1.35 times the annual salary to get the total annual cost of the employee. Using that rule the employees come out to $97K. A bit of difference to $185k.

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They should emulate Singapore...

... On the one hand a very draconian, punishment-oriented society with massive fines for littering, spitting etc and a lot worse for more serious crimes and negative behaviours.

But on the other hand a VERY safe and pleasant place to live and do business

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FAIL

Simple Alternatives?

Ok, so you are at the point that you need to officially hire people to pick-up people poop (a true shovel ready job).

You could have:

* Deployed well positioned port-a-potties

* Deployed the newly conceived French pee boxes

* Offered waste-bags (environmentally friendly type for SanFran ) to pick-up after one's self or your best friend.

* Enforced "littering" laws

* Built a number of public restrooms (public parks, public buildings, why not public porcelain?)

* Given credits to businesses that allow public access to their restrooms.

* Offered a 5 cent deposit for the homeless to recycle their droppings.

It's understandable for people with shovels and cans to follow the parade horses or circus animals, but there is something very uncompassionate about conceding that the streets and walkways are an inevitable repository for human excrement.

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