Man writes letter to San Francisco Chronicle over dirty streets

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Trash on San Francisco streets moved a visitor from Texas to write a letter saying the amount of trash in the streets made him embarrassed to be an American. (KGO-TV)

San Francisco has dirty streets, according to a visitor from Texas who wrote to the president of the board of supervisors to say so.

There's a lot to see in Fishermen's Wharf, but if you look down you may see some trash. "The dirt, the bottles, it's not a nice situation in San Francisco," one man said.

It moved one visitor from Texas to write a letter. David Cochrane said the amount of trash in the streets made him embarrassed to be an American.

He sent it to Board of Supervisors President London Breed. And her staff released a response saying: "If you're embarrassed to be an American, then you're barking up the wrong tree here buddy. Why don't you write a letter to the editor of whatever town you're from, if your panties are in a bunch?"

So, he wrote a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle.

After reading it, Breed apologized, investigated, and said the anonymous response came from an intern, who's been told not to come back.

Those familiar with the procedure say interns are supposed to reply with potential solutions to a complaint, sign their name and forward the email to the appropriate department. In this case, San Francisco Public Works. "In most cases, we respond to complaints and requests within 48 hours, our crews will be out there picking up that litter or that trash," San Francisco Public Works spokesperson Minday Linetzky said.

San Francisco Public Works said it picked up 32 million pounds of street trash in the past year.

Whether it's enough, depends on who you ask. "Actually I think it's pretty clean. For being downtown and so many people here," one woman said.

San Francisco Board of Supervisor John Avalos says it's a battle of mythological proportions. "Taking care of our streets is like Sisyphus, pushing that rock up the hill in Hades," he said.

San Francisco Board of Supervisor Aaron Peskin's ready to make it a grudge match over trash cans. "I would like to replace the trash cans that were removed by then-mayor Gavin Newsom," he said.

And though Breed didn't stop to talk. She agrees there's work to be done.

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