'Love Our City:' San Francisco launches cleanup of city streets

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An army of hundreds of volunteers took to San Francisco streets in some of the most visited neighborhoods Wednesday as the city's summer tourism season gets underway. Their mission: to pick up the trash.

In recent years San Francisco has been battered with bad press over dirty streets, trash and even human waste on the sidewalks.

According to the San Francisco Public Works department, 700 volunteers partook in the deep clean of the city's waterfront. As many as 24 million visitors a year come to San Francisco to take in its breathtaking sites. 

The Hotel Council of San Francisco and San Francisco Travel hosted 'Love Our City Hospitality & Tourism Cleanup Day' in partnership with the public works department. Mayor London Breed launched the day's activities at 9 a.m. at Embarcadero Plaza.

 "We're stepping up with new investments to clean up San Francisco, including adding more trash cans, more street cleaning, more public toilets and more dedicated cleaning teams in targeted areas," Breed said.

The Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District said the first impression that visitors take back with them to their homes is critical for good word-of-mouth and repeat visits. 

Visitors, like Thad Johnson, say they appreciate the effort. "The fact that you have volunteers that are out here. Where we're from, we don't really have that. So, this is something, an idea that we might want to have implemented in our city."

Mohammed Nuru from the city's Department of Public Works said the volunteer army is an important ally. "Imagine four hours of work, even at minimum wage, times 700. It's a huge dollar number that these volunteers have given back to the city," said Nuru.

The workday builds on a citywide Love Our City cleanup last fall hosted by Breed and San Francisco Public Works that drew hundreds of volunteers from around the city.

It's a program the city would like to see repeated.

"The hotel and tourism industry has really stepped up and brought these volunteers out today," said Nuru. "We'd like to see other corporations and other people that have large numbers of employees to join this type of effort."

Not to be outdone, Oakland will be getting in on the cleanup action. SF's DPW announced San Francisco and Oakland will hold a cleanup competition that will gather volunteers to beautify both cities sometime in September. 

Bay City News reporter Annie Steuart contributed to this report.