Local tourism officials say the rating simply reflects that San Francisco is a densely populated urban city. But Mayor Ed Lee says he's received an earful from San Francisco residents about how dirty the city can be.
About 18 million tourists visited San Francisco last year. They come for the beauty, but sometimes see the beast. Travel and Leisure Magazine ranked San Francisco as one of America's dirtiest cities -- 11th out of 35 surveyed.
The results are from an online poll of 50,000 readers. It's not at all scientific and not at all accurate according to most tourists ABC7 News talked to Thursday.
"I grew up in New York, so my kind of threshold for dirt is way up here," tourist Gautam Shah said. "So I see San Francisco and I could eat off the sidewalk compared to New York."
He's right; New York is No. 1 on the dirty list. Baltimore isn't far behind at No. 3.
"It's beautiful, this is far from the dirtiest city," tourist Brenda Robinson said. "We're from Baltimore. I can tell you this is not the dirtiest city."
But San Francisco deserves to be on the list, according to some tourists like the Weeks family from Australia.
"Yeah, it has been a little grimy and dirty; my son got spat on last night," Jodie Weeks said.
The counterpoint to the not-so-pristine conditions, the magazine's readers gave San Francisco high marks for fine dining, ethnic food, tech savvy people and good public transportation.
"I think those things really overpower the fact of the dirtiness; the fact of the matter is the most visited cities ranked higher than we are," San Francisco Travel Association spokesperson Joe D'Alessandro said.
Lee says it's time for a spring cleaning campaign.
"I think everyone will agree our favorite corridors that we always like more like people to see, but we don't like the trash on the streets, the illegal dumping or graffiti," he said.
Lee used to be the head of the San Francisco Department of Public Works, responsible for keeping the city clean.