Survey of Downtown SF Reveals Trash, Feces, Drug Needles
How dirty is San Francisco? An NBC Bay Area Investigation reveals a dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces throughout downtown San Francisco. The Investigative Unit surveyed 153 blocks of the city – the more than 20-mile stretch includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and major hotel chains. The area – bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue – is also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station.
On one block, as our team photographed 11 discarded hypodermic needles, a group of preschoolers walked just feet away.
“We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash,” said teacher Adelita Orellana. “Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a 2-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.”.
“The floor is dirty,” said A’Nylah Reed, a 3-year-old student at the preschool, who irately explained having to navigate dirty conditions on her walks to school.
“There is poop in there,” she exclaimed. “That makes me angry.”
The investigation also found 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown.
Based on the findings of the Investigative Unit survey, Riley believes parts of the city may be even dirtier than slums in some developing countries.
“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India,” he said. He notes that in those countries, slum dwellings are often long-term homes for families and so there is an attempt to make the surroundings more livable. Homeless communities in San Francisco, however, are often kicked out from one part of town and forced to relocate to another. The result is extreme contamination, according to Riley.