San Francisco streets get 'deep-clean' in effort to improve city, boost business

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In San Francisco's Little Saigon, along parts of Larkin Street, got a power wash.

Guillermo Perez, a supervisor with the Department of Public Works, lead a crew of 20 through a full flush of the area, spraying down intersections, power washing sidewalks for gum and human waste, and hauling off garbage.

"(We) do a real deep cleaning at the beginning of the block, and not miss an inch of the whole block, from one corner going down to the next corner," explains Perez.

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Larkin Street, which is notorious for being the site of needles, trash and human feces, was the first street cleaned as part of a six-month pilot program to deep-clean the city's busiest commercial corridors.

Rene Colorado, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Merchant Association, says something had to be done to clean up streets because small businesses were complaining about a drop in traffic and tourists.

"It translates directly into dollars for the merchants. People don't want to walk through filth," says Colorado.

Public Works crews already work around the clock, seven days a week, cleaning San Francisco streets. But an area is only given a deep clean after a big event like a parade.

Hu Huang owns the Golden Lotus o Larkin. He pitched in by sweeping the street in front of his restaurant. He believes cleaner streets will be a boost for business.

"More clean is more better. People say, 'Oh, it's really good!' Then they come to the restaurant," says Huang.

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But the city insists, for streets to stay clean, business owners and residents have to do their part too with upkeep. Notices were posted on some Larkin street stores warning owners to clean up the graffiti around their shops.

"We are giving that courtesy clean up to hopefully have the businesses and residents not feel so challenged when it comes to taking care of their responsibility," says Perez.

City officials have been touring the city to identify which streets to clean, but they picked Larkin Street as the start, in part, because of the huge amount of phone calls they got with people complaining about problems in that area.

Each week, crews will go out to a different part of the city. If the clean street program keeps streets clean, it could be extended or be adopted as an on-going program.

They will announce the next location in the next few days.

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