SAN FRANCISCO - Neighbors old and new gathered on Monday to tackle a daunting task, working to clear as much trash as they can out of San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.
Bit by bit, bag by bag neighbors new and old worked shoulder to shoulder cleaning up the 30 square blocks that comprise the city's Tenderloin District. Community organizers said the day was about bringing together volunteers, private companies and government resources, all with a common goal.
"So today is obviously about cleaning, we're going to be picking up litter," said Simon Bertrang from Tenderloin Community Benefit District.
People living in San Francisco say they're fed up with seeing trash on the street, Vince Yuen says he founded Refuse Refuse, as a way to organize and harness people's desire to clean their own neighborhoods.
"I was not doing anything up until recently and I think a lot of us are in that same boat, and there are a lot of us that need to step up," said Yuen. "You're going to see that, Public Works, Tenderloin CBD, Urban Alchemy. They cannot do it alone."
The neighborhood networking app Nextdoor recently moved its headquarters into the area. The company said its workers volunteered to help clean the streets to be part of a greater business, government and private citizen movement to take ownership of the some of the dirtiest streets in the city.
"I think what's really cool about today is that this is probably one of the first times that we're really seeing this multi-layer partnership between companies, between civic organizations and residents, people who live here and want to do better," said Caty Kobe from Nextdoor.
San Francisco's Department of Public Works workers clean the area daily, but say even after a deep clean or a power wash the following day it can look like no work was done at all.
DiJaida Durden from the DPW says there needs to be neighborhood buy-in.
"We work hard to keep the city clean," said Durden. "Do our job with the sweeping. But, we can't do it alone. We need residents, schools, business owners, non-profits, everybody hands down to help clean our city."
Mayor London Breed stepped in, picking up trash herself. The mayor says it will be a matter of will to clean the Tenderloin, but that it will take a concerted effort. "Part of why we're here is to make sure that we're going to change this, we're going to turn this around," said Mayor Breed. "But, it's going to require a lot of work and a lot of patience."
Organizers say this was just the first effort to bring together government, private companies and volunteers, and are already working to organize the next clean up.
While this clean up was focused on the Tenderloin, organizers hope that the effort to clean the city will spread to neighborhoods throughout the city.