Trash Talk: SF supervisor's harsh response to tourist's complaint

Some trash-talk at San Francisco City Hall put the Office of the President of the Board of Supervisors at odds with a tourist.

David Cochrane of Dallas, Texas was visiting the City by the Bay last month and was offended by the amount of litter on the street. The tourist sent an email to Supervisor London Breed's office to complain, "I was embarrassed to be an American because of the way San Francisco is presented to the world," he wrote on July 25th.

Five days later, he received this response, "If you are embarrassed to be an American, then you are barking up the wrong tree here, buddy. Why don't you write a letter to the editor or whatever town you're from if your panties are in a bunch?"

Cochrane sent the email to the Chronicle where he continued to call Fisherman's wharf a "dump."
Breed declined to comment to KTVU but told the Chronicle an intern was to blame and subsequently let go. Breed then apologized to Cochrane.

We asked tourists how they rate San Francisco's cleanliness. "It's absolutely cleaner than Los Angeles," said Marielle Kraak of the Netherlands. "We've been to LA and that was gross."

"We're in a hotel downtown and it's very clean, it gets a little more untidy as you walk, wander out, " said Richard Palmer of England, "it's not so bad around here along the waterfront. We noticed it got a bit scruffy around Chinatown." said Richard Palmer of England.

"Around [Fisherman's Wharf] there is a little bit more trash. You go to other areas say like Golden Gate Park, it's cleaner, nicer," said Rick Jacoby of Las Vegas.

"I think New York is the cleanest and then San Francisco, then LA or Las Vegas." said Annemare Kraak of the Netherlands. "Las Vegas wasn't that clean either."

Stacia Alvarez just moved back to the US after spending seven years near London. She says London, like San Francisco, has its dirty sections. She says litter is a problem that plagues big cities, along with homeless populations that contribute to the trash problem.

"Last year alone we had 80 thousand service requests for extra street cleaning," said Mindy Linetzky, Deputy Communications Director for San Francisco Public Works.

"Our crews pick up 32 million pounds of trash off the streets each year and the city spends $44 million a year on street sweeps, picking up litter, street corridor workers, and hot spot workers."

"We allocated a significant amount of new dollars toward street cleaning in our commercial corridors in particular so I really think it's going to turn around here in the city of San Francisco," said Supervisor Mark Farrell. "Our tourism is our bread and butter for our city and we don't like to hear, I don't like to hear when my relatives come from out of town and say look the condition of your streets is deplorable it's dirty we don't want to come back."

If you see some garbage you can either stop and pick it up or call 311 and crews will respond within 48 hours, according to DPW.

Tourists we spoke to say Americans, compared to Europeans, tend to be litterbugs. "There will be a garbage bin only two meters away and the person won't use it," said Annemare Kraak.

If you want a truly clean city, the tourists said, go to Copenhagen, Sydney or Singapore.