The Great Mission Trash Island

Why Isn't Anything Being Done About the Trash Problem in Dolores Park?

Okay, we get it: trash is a major problem in Dolores Park.  The Fourth of July’s “mountain of garbage” was inexcusable and the Earth Day mess was cruelly ironic. But given all the press the stray garbage in Dolores Park receives, it’s clear that public shaming is not deterring litterers and their ilk.  So instead of complaining about the shit situation, why isn’t anyone proposing credible solutions to the problem?

Let’s take the photo below into consideration:

Photo from Earth Day 2012/DPW

My first reaction is HOLY FUCK THAT’S NASTY.  My second is that people are clearly trying to dispose of their garbage, but the city has, quite obviously, failed to provide adequate receptacles to handle the situation.

Back in 2010, the city nearly quadrupled the number of trash cans along the park on Dolores Street, but that did little to improve the situation.  So in 2011, the city announced that Recology, our city’s garbage company, would increase the frequency of trash pick-ups on weekends and holidays for the park, but that program only ran during the summer months (causing the Earth Day situation pictured above) and still didn’t fully address the problem.

One “solution” to this issue commonly suggested in internet comments would have us encouraging people to carry their trash out of the park.  However in 2007, the brilliant minds of the Gavin Newsom/Ed Lee dynasty had almost all the sidewalk trash cans removed from the city, foolishly thinking that removing the garbage cans would decrease litter (it didn’t).  The result of such a move is now Dolores Park patrons cannot even carry their garbage further away from their park, assuming they would even entertain doing such a thing in the first place.  (And, of course, some suggest people carry the garbage home, but that wouldn’t be in the best interests of all the bars, restaurants, and venues that earn money from patrons leaving the park.)

So why isn’t the city installing even more trash cans and having Recology do even more pick-ups?  Presumably, the city lacks the political will, financial capacity, or both to pursue such a logical solution—never mind the considerations as to where added cans would be placed.

A potentially even more costly, but perhaps necessary proposal would be to have the city treat every weekend in the park as a special event, thus sucking it up and ponying up the cost for a dumpster to be placed at the entrance of the park every weekend.  It would be an added expense to an already strained parks budget, we know.  But if the city is already paying for Recology to make “special runs,” why not spend that money up front to improve the situation?

Now, consider the mess within the park itself:

Alex Chaffee, who took the above photo, notes, “this photo is a complete argument for more trash cans in the park (not next to it). People will move their trash, but only to the nearest receptacle, no further.”  I can’t help but agree.  A certain portion of park users are lazy shitheads—the same lazy shitheads who litter the Mission and the rest of the city—and won’t walk their trash to the streetside receptacles, regardless if they are overflowing or not.  So why not place more cans within the park itself?  The Dyke March organizers always drag a number of trash cans into the middle the park, a solution that has always helped leave the park clean (either that or march attendees are more environmentally conscious—who the fuck knows).  Plus, the park has a number of roads that are accessible to full-sized vehicles, making them easy to empty and maintain.  So why isn’t the city bringing more trash cans into the middle of the park, rather than calling up the Chronicle to yet-again shame ‘the hipsters’ for trashing the park?

We understand that some of these issues may be alleviated following the Dolores Park Renovations, however people want the city to start addressing the problem now.  So, regardless if you agree with any of these solutions or not, it’s time we have a serious discussion about the problem and stop the ceaseless bitching.

Comments (20)

Actually, I think the reason they removed all those cans was that people were putting all their household garbage in them to avoid paying Recology garbage fees at home. Whether or not it cut down on freeloaders and encouraged people to pay Recology, it had the far worse effect of a lot more garbage in each remaining can and more shit all over the streets. Dumb.

We’d be happy to lend our large chalkboard sign for someone to take for a stroll. Just write “Pick up your shit” on one side and “You aren’t as cool as you think you are” on the other. Not sure it’ll solve the problem, but it’ll at least remind people that they are a pathetic waste of a human being for a second.…

Thank you.
The solution to this problem is ridiculously obvious.
Until Ed Lee and the DPW make the effort to supply more trash cans, NO ONE should be complaining about this.
Same Goes for the ridiculous lack of public bathrooms and the constant outraged bleatings about public urination.
We pay millions of dollars for these services. Where are they?

My suggestion to KevMo:

Apply your illustrator & photoshop skills to your great ideas/suggestions. Make a tightass design of where the new receptacles should go and where the dumpster should be placed. Write about your proposal with details on how & when the trash bins would be emptied.

Send you proposal to Dolores Park Works and Supervisor Wiener asking them for support.

Go to the 3rd Saturday Clean-Ups.

A couple ideas than ran through my mind while reading this:

-What if there was a little more vocal public shaming of these pesky lazy litterbugs? Someone had to notice the d bag leaving their trash behind. Get off your phone and say something. “Excuse me, but your mom still lives in Walnut Creek. Please pick up after yourself.” Or “Hey, dude, that shit doesn’t biodegrade over night. Use the bins, man.” Or “Hey there, lazyass. Pick it up or bring your maid.”

-What if the local bars & restaurants who enjoy the dollars of some of these lazy revelers did a promotion to encourage cleaning up after your self. You know, like giving out a trophy just for showing up to the game. Recology could supply a few extra bins and the establishment could “reward” those people who “donate” their recycling (that Recology will profit from) with some kind of discount or free item. After all, as mentioned in the article, the only way these places will see patrons is if they are not forced to go home to dump the trash.

But clearly something has to be done. Sad that in the “greenest” economy people are trashier than ever.

How is that solar compator trash can working? If I’d does work its in the wrong corner.

Since trash cans are ugly, I’d rather see them emptied more frequently, rather than more cans. Better yet, both more cans and emptied more frequently.

How about pack it in pack it out, motherfucker? No one here gives a fuck if you live an hour away.

As usual, those communist northern Europeans have already figured out how to provide a metric shit ton of trashcan volume without putting a haul-away trailer on every corner of the park.

Check out this video, around minute 1:20

Install signs stating that people are responsible for taking their trash out of the park with them. If observed not doing so or adding to piles of garbage, they will be issued a citation and fined. Leave no trace. Put it back in your messenger bag, if you go to the store to buy more liquor, bring what empties you have there to dispose of. There are no excuses for this to keep happening.

Typical Mission babies


1) exactly why are the Marina bros universally reviled by all of the supposed culturally and personally-enlightened young whites of the Mission? I was under the impression that the Marina was seen as a haven for meathead douches that are stuck in adolescence; as indicated by drunken buffoonery. So how exactly is some asshole with a Deadwood mustache doing the same exact thing any better?

2) this country is full of people that criticize our municipalities for wasteful spending, employment etc. And yet you stringbean fuckbags expect SF to employ an army of janitors t pick up your goddamn beer waste? fuck you. i think the city is speaking clearly - if you are going to act like a bunch of infants, live in your own shit

the hypocrisy of you little pukes is, once again, astounding.. and the mission is pathetic. you mutherfuckers are just as vapid and lame as the worst Marina-ite. I want to ship the Taliban in to waste you all

Pack it in. Pack it out. It’s very simple.
Unless you’re really drunk.

Great article Kevmo. Hope that this is part of your campaign to be sup. Pretty spot on with the summery here. More trash cans. Pretty simple.

Dolores Park = frat party in disguise.

It’s disappointing to see that some of the writers here would prefer to attack their fellow citizens and park goers, rather than demand the essential services that we have all already paid for with our taxes.
You are a bureaucrat’s wet dream.

I live 7 blocks away from dp and the rare times I go there my trash goes in the can, or I carry it out if there is no room. Sometimes I take it home before I go back out.

From “the fiscal year ending in 2004 to… to the fiscal year 2008-09, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Rangers’ budget quadrupled, from $500,000 to $2.2 million.”……

I would argue that if the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department has millions of dollars per year to spend on a redundant security force while at the same time scaling back the services of trash collection in our parks and closing or not maintaining bathrooms, then something is wrong with their priorities.

While we’re at it, how many managers and directors making $100,000. to $185,000 per year do we really need? Dozens?
But there’s no money for trash pickup or bathrooms?…

The obvious solution is to pack out what you pack in.
During nice days in the park there is simply not enough receptacles or space for the required trash. People just need to pack out their shit. That’s what I do.

Being a part of a DPW in another City around the shoreline of the Bay, adding DURABLE trash receptacles is expensive to procure as they need to handle the abuse of heavy use, then you have X number of trash cans that need to be checked on a daily basis by a DPW/Recology employee. For better or worse, if there is some trash in the receptacle, they dump it and replace the can with a new bag (if SF puts in bags, I don’t know), and moves to the next one. With trash, you need a vehicle or other transportation device, you go from one to the next, then the next, so if you add (let’s just say) 20 more trash cans, then the employee is checking an additional 20 more cans, at maybe 3 minutes per, let’s just say? So, another hour just checking the additional cans. That would be on top of whatever else the DPW employee is supposed to do for normal day to day operations (and you’d be shocked at how many little things these guys are responsible for because they do more work between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. that you hardly even know of because most of us aren’t even up yet).

Between Mondays-Thursday, it is likely that most receptacles will be lightly used, but you still need to check them all if they are out there. It’s really the weekends that generate that heavy use, and that really heavy use, probably only on special events, like Earth Day, and yes, the irony of that event is level 9000. So, spending the time to check every receptacle every day, when really, you need to check only on weekends or special events will end up costing more money. And if you think that they need to do more with the existing fees that you are paying, it doesn’t work that way, if they need to do more work, then fees will go up, or other services will go down.

Adding dumpsters, except only during specific events, is not a solution, because you will find mattresses, bikes, other crap that people think it is okay to dump. It is why construction dumpsters usually have locks on them, because neighbors dump their unwanted crap into them. During special events, with a limited amount of time that they are staged can make sense, but only for specific times and events.

The idea of “Pack it in, Pack it out” is not hard once you get used to it, but it does take work to get people to buy off on it. Years ago, it was inconceivable that people would pick up the sh*t of their own dog, but enough pressure and public outcry make it so that activity is normal these days (or at least less offensive than it was in the 70’s 80’s). The same needs to occur regarding parks and our fair City. Maybe we need the crying Indian commercials to come back for a time.