San Francisco announces needle cleanup team amid crackdown on street littering

The Mayor of San Francisco announced Monday the hiring of 10 workers who will clean up needles strewn in the streets.

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell said the needle-cleanup team will focus solely on responding to resident complaints and remove needles and syringes from “hot spots” daily.

He told The San Francisco Examiner that city residents will feel the impact of the new team “without a doubt” and assured that “If they don’t, we will fund more.”

About 275,000 needles are collected every month by the Public Health Department and nonprofit organizations focused on providing syringes and safe disposal.

The mayor said discarded syringes are among the top litter complaints in the city with a growing problem of homelessness.

The city will give $750,000 to the AIDS Foundation, which will hire the new team of cleaners, Barbara Garcia, the public health director, said. The cleaners will begin their work sometime in June.

The new initiative is part of a larger effort by the mayor to fix the state of city streets. He recently vowed to combat the problems of tent camps, and stinky urine and trash across the city.

Farrell is expected to present a street-cleaning effort in his June 1 city budget proposal. Last week, the city board approved an additional $1.1 million funding increase for street cleaning, but Farrell said he will veto the proposal because he’s in favor of a comprehensive citywide plan, the Examiner reported.

"The trash, our homeless, the needles, the drug abuse on our streets, I've seen it all in our city and it's gotten to the point where we need to really change course," Farrell said in a recent interview.

"We've gone away from just being compassionate to enabling street behavior and that, in my opinion, is a shift that's unacceptable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.