Tuesday, June 24, 2014

DPW Cleans Up BART Plaza Bird Poop; DPH Assesses Health Issues

Since various BART officials, including gay advocate Tom Radulovich who site on their governing board, neither cleaned up the health hazards at the 16th and Mission plazas nor provided me with any communication about when they might do so, I contacted three San Francisco City agencies for help.

I wrote to the director of the Department of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru, and the agency's public information officer Rachel Gordon on Monday afternoon and this morning received this reply from Rachel:

We will begin steam-cleaning around the outside of the station each morning, as a start, and assess progress. Crew should be out there this morning. Here are other photos of today’s cleanup efforts, including the news racks. There will be additional cleaning tomorrow, the day after, etc. BART is responsible for the plaza cleaning. However, we regularly step in to help out. Note that the new City budget, still being negotiated, may include additional funding to pay for more regular and focused cleaning of transit hubs, including the areas around BART Stations.

(Credit for all photos: San Francisco Department of Public Works.)

Two aspects in the images impress me. The tops of the news racks are 99% free of pigeon poop, while the blue caps on the short pillars in the last photo are so free of poop they're sparkling in the sunlight. Look at how clean the sidewalks are after the steam cleaning and the blue seats are free from grime. All of this adds up to a more sanitary and inviting public space for all users of the plaza.

A big and deep thank you to Rachel and Mohammed and the DPW crew members who take quick action in less than a day, and have said in writing what their plans are to keep the plaza cleaner this week and beyond. Let's all give praise to this City agency for a job well-done!

I also emailed Barbara Garcia, the director of the Department of Public Health, at the same time I wrote to DPW and she passed along my complaint to her environmental division to investigate. This morning, Barbara shared messages from her staffers about their plans, some of which I've combined here:

Yes, if there are sanitation issues, we can work with the BART Officials for abatement. Will send a staff to the site. [...] Great, thanks. Looks to me like we have to improve pigeon proofing. [...] We will do a complete assessment of all the sanitation issues.

My gratitude goes out to Barbara and DPH workers for moving in less than 24-hours to assess the public health concerns at 16th and Mission plazas, and saying they will coordinate with BART. 

Needless to say, I'm quite satisfied with the swift moves by DPW and DPH leaders about the serious sanitation issues and how they've wasted no time to improve the environment at the plazas. Let's hope the BART authorities get in touch with the leaders at these City departments, along with myself and the general public, and begin to address the health hazards on their property.

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