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 …

  1. ThatOne Silver badge

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

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Or roll downhill.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Or the radiator grille of the cleaning van.

      2. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: Or roll downhill.

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

        ...right into the bay.

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Though usually it floats to the top...

      1. EarthDog

        Zuckerberg is proof

      2. Kane Silver badge

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

        They all float, down here...

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      $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.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

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

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

      2. david 12 Silver 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.

  2. IceC0ld Silver 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

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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???

    1. macjules Silver badge

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

      You don't know shit

    2. Mark 85 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. Jason

    I bet you still need 7 years Swift experience to apply

    1. 404

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

    2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      "Swift experience"

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

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

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

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        It certainly seems like a crap solution.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    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.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      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.

      1. Jellied Eel 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.

      2. Mark 85 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.

        1. Dan 55 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.

          1. Jellied Eel 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.

            1. Mark 85 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.

              1. Dan 55 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.

                1. Jellied Eel 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.

            2. MasterofDisaster

              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.

            3. Cubist Castle
              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.

          2. Paul Hovnanian 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.

            1. BongoJoe

              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.

              1. Jellied Eel 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.

              2. Paul Hovnanian 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.

        2. StargateSg7 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?

        3. Uffish

          Re: homeless druggies

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

      3. John Brown (no body) 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".

      4. BongoJoe

        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.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: That's some seriously hard of thinking

      Short answer Dan is yes. Rents are that high.

  7. Steve K 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)"

  8. m-k

    re. mayor London Breed

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


    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: re. mayor London Breed

  9. Far out man

    If you are going to San Francisco

    Be sure to wear some shoes upon your feet

    Summer time there is shit upon the street

  10. 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.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      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?

      1. Chris G 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?

      2. John Brown (no body) 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,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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!'

      3. Geoffrey W

        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.

      4. FrozenShamrock

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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?

  11. Lusty

    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...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: Scope creep

        It's a Honda NSX, sir.

        Acuras are just overpriced Hondas. -Anonymous

    2. Steve Knox

      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."


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

  12. chivo243 Silver badge

    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...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Geoffrey W

        Re: Solution was already animated

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

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      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.

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      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.

  13. Blake St. Claire

    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.

    1. sorry, what?

      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.)

      1. Geoffrey W

        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.

        1. JeffyPoooh

          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.

          1. Geoffrey W

            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.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        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.

  14. Blake St. Claire

    $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.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. Blake St. Claire

        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.)

    3. JeffyPoooh

      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. ;-)

  15. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    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.

    1. Diogenes

      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

  16. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      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.

  17. Mark 85 Silver badge

    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....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  18. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    This is a high-tech center

    Poo-cleaning AI robots when?

  19. Dwarf Silver badge

    I suppose

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

  20. cheb

    The French got there first with the tech:

  21. Caff

    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.

    1. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Smart Cities

      Caff proposed, "Poop Drone Swarm"

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

  22. 2Nick3

    Escalating pay scale

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

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's that AngelHack guy when you need him?

    He can clean it up. With his bare hands.

  24. Glicky


    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.

  25. happyuk

    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

  26. Jay Lenovo

    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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