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Feces complaints up 35 percent in SF

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Too few public bathrooms have contributed to the mess

Two gray portable toilets.
Portable toilets in the Tenderloin.
Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

As distasteful as it may be to discuss, complaints to SF 311 about feces on city streets increased again in 2018, including a surprising surge in Glen Park.

The rental site Rent Hop examined the number-two numbers across SF for 2018 and 2019 to date. According to their analysis, in 2018, SF 311 received 28,315 animal/human waste complaints, compared to more than 20,800 the year before, an increase of about 35 percent year over year.

The site also notes that so far for 2019, the count jumped to more than 25,000 calls, up seven percent compared to the same time in 2018.

The Tenderloin fielded the most waste calls at over 3,000 last year, although this was a decline of 11 percent compared to 2017.

Oddly enough, the biggest year-over-year increase was in Glen Park, which saw calls increase 205 percent; however, this only added up to 61 incidents.

Rent Hop cites the city’s Data SF portal as the source of its figures. According to public data, the city has responded to some 152,000 waste-related calls since 2007, the fifth most common type of 311 complaint.

The most common calls (516,000 since 2007) are for removal of “bulky items” from streets or sidewalks. “General cleaning” is second most common (464,000). Third is reports about homeless encampments (197,000), with general “request for service” (157,000) coming in at fourth.

For comparison, New York City, a metropolis with nearly ten times SF’s population, only has 1,714 feces complaints so far for 2019.

Rent Hop does not venture any speculations about why the problem might appear to be increasing despite City Hall’s efforts.

In 2018 City Lab observed that not only does San Francisco have a large per capita homeless population (and too few public bathrooms), but an unusual number of SF’s homeless residents go unsheltered. Thanks, in part, to the building boom, many of the places in which homeless residents previously found makeshift shelters are no longer available.

The city’s 2019 point-in-time homeless count found that of more than 8,000 people without homes in the city on a single night in January, nearly 5,200 were unsheltered for the evening.