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Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Back in 2012, I was both amused and horrified to learn that the Greek government actually required entrepreneurs to submit…um…stool samples if they wanted to set up online companies.

Well, there’s apparently a surplus of that…er…material on the streets of San Francisco. A local radio station even shared a map of places to avoid (or to seek out, who am I to judge?).

It’s become such a big problem that the city’s government decided to act. But instead of enforcing rules against public defecation, they’ve created a new bureaucracy. I’m not joking.

Some people are questioning the city’s priorities, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.

San Francisco’s…flush with potty problems — the city has received 14,597 complaints about feces on its sidewalks since January… Now city leaders have unveiled plans for a six-person poop patrol to try to address the issue… But the very concept of a poop patrol inspired skepticism, mockery and, yes, poop emojis… “Instead of telling people to USE A BATHROOM!! San Francisco is going to send out a pooper scooper Patrol to pick it up,” wrote one person. “Lord help us all.” …Others posting to Twitter had questions. “Will the poop patrol get hazardous duty pay?” asked one person, while another wanted to know.

Business Insider has details about this new “poop patrol.”

In San Francisco, you can earn more than $184,000 a year in salary and benefits for cleaning up feces. As members of the city’s “Poop Patrol,” workers are entitled to $71,760 a year, plus an additional $112,918 in benefits… The staffers will begin their efforts each afternoon equipped with a steam cleaner for sanitizing the streets. The full budget for the initiative, $830,977, signifies a concerted effort to address the city’s mounting feces problem, which has resulted in more than 14,500 calls to 311.

That’s a lot of money, though this is a rare instance of where I won’t make my usual argument about bureaucrats being overpaid.

In any event (as is so often the case), bad government policy is the root cause of the problem.

While the high salaries of sanitation workers may incentivize further cleanup, the city will ultimately have to contend with its affordability crisis if it hopes to eliminate the problem. That would mean addressing restrictive zoning laws that make it both difficult and expensive to add affordable developments.

Yes, there’s this simple concept called supply and demand. And when San Francisco politicians don’t let people use their property to create more housing, then ever-higher prices are an inevitable result. But I guess they are too busy dealing with real problems…such as toys in Happy Meals.

To be sure, I’m not under any illusion that abolition of zoning laws and creation of a laissez-faire housing market would completely solve the poop problem. Much of that anti-social behavior is probably linked to mental illness and/or drug abuse.

But less zoning would mean less s**t. Seems like a compelling bumper sticker to me.

P.S. I don’t know if this story belong in my series on “Great Moments in Local Government” or if the poop patrol belongs in the “Bureaucrat Hall of Fame.”

P.P.S. Things can always get worse. Senator Kamala Harris has a hare-brained proposal that would trigger even higher prices for rental housing.

P.P.P.S. San Francisco also has a poop problem even when people use toilets instead of sidewalks.

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I confess to mixed feelings on this type of issue. If taxpayers are financing sidewalks, does that mean anybody has a right to use them for any purpose, at any time?

Here’s a blurb from the People’s Republic of San Francisco.

San Francisco police officers have started enforcing the city’s new ban on sitting and lying on the sidewalk. In November, voters approved the sit/lie law, which makes it illegal to hang out on San Francisco sidewalks between 7 am and 11 pm. “The cops said that the first time, we get admonished. And then after that, they’ll start filling out tickets,” he said. “They only have a select few that they’re going to choose to do that with.” Those tickets will start at $50 and could escalate to $500 or even jail time.

One thing I do know, however, is that giving bums tickets is not going to be very effective.

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Since I believe in federalism and decentralization, I tend to be somewhat tolerant of stupid decisions by local governments – particularly when those choices are made thousands of miles away and I don’t have to deal with the consequences.

With this in mind, I find it rather amusing that San Francisco is now plagued by sewer smells as a result of mandates for low-flow toilets. The article doesn’t explain what rules the city imposed, but I assume they are even worse than the federal rules (if you want a good laugh about the federal law, this Dave Barry column is worth reading).

Reading the excerpt below, part of me hopes for a dry summer and that the city’s politicians all live near AT&T Park.

San Francisco’s big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink. Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months. The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem. Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite – better known as bleach – to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

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There is a famous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller, who was imprisoned by Hitler’s National Socialist regime and barely survived the concentration camps.

They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Niemöller’s statement teaches us that we should guard against government oppression, even when we are not the target, because it may be just a matter of time before the goons of the state shift their attention to us.

Nothing can compare to the horrors of Hitler’s National Socialists or the brutality of various communist regimes, so I certainly do not want to imply any moral equivalence, but I can’t help but thinking about what Niemöller said as I contemplate the various hare-brained proposals being imposed on people by San Francisco’s nanny-state buffoons.

Last week, I put up a post about the city banning Happy Meals toys. That certainly seemed absurd, but the craziness is reaching new levels with a possible referendum on banning circumcisions.

One city resident is proposing a ballot measure that would ban circumcision in the City, according to the San Francisco Examiner. If passed in November 2011, the measure would change San Francisco’s police code “to make it a misdemeanor to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18.” The punishment for those who choose to cut away anyway would be up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

What’s next, mandatory sensitivity classes? Morning calisthenics with the exercise police? Banning leather belts? Is there any limit once we acquiesce to the notion that other people have the right to tell us how to live our lives?

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This is something that could only happen in San Francisco. The city’s bureaucrats are considering a proposal to ban selling pets. Oops, I just committed a thought crime. They are called “companion animals,” not pets. Anyhow, the plan to ban them would have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. Whether this happens will be a test of just how crazy the city is.
Sell a guinea pig, go to jail. That’s the law under consideration by San Francisco’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare. If the commission approves the ordinance at its meeting tonight, San Francisco could soon have what is believed to be the country’s first ban on the sale of all pets except fish. That includes dogs, cats, hamsters, mice, rats, chinchillas, guinea pigs, birds, snakes, lizards and nearly every other critter, or, as the commission calls them, companion animals. …San Francisco residents who want a pet would have to go to another city, adopt one from a shelter or rescue group, or find one through the classifieds. The Board of Supervisors would have final say on the matter. But not before pet store owners unleash a cacophony of howling, squeaking and squawking.

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