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San Francisco Measure B: Sanitation and Streets Department

Sidewalk sweeping machine


This is a 2-minute summary of what’s on the ballot. Click here to listen to them all.

Currently, San Francisco does not have a department solely dedicated to keeping its streets and public areas clean. Those responsibilities are currently part of the Public Works department. Measure B proposes splitting off some of public works’ responsibilities into a new department of sanitation and streets.



The new department would oversee the disinfecting of streets, sidewalks, and public restrooms. Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the Tenderloin and South of Market areas, authored the measure. Haney and his supporters say that a separate sanitation department would take a more focused approach to cleaning up San Francisco.


If passed, Measure B would move about 835 current Public Works employees to the newly created department. Streets and Sanitation would need to make some hires, including a department head, public information officer, and other administrative employees. This measure would also create two special commissions – one to oversee the sanitation department and another to oversee Public Works. All this would increase costs by about $2.5 to $6 million a year.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Acting Public Works director worries these expenses could balloon. But, Supervisor Haney believes the investment would ultimately save money by eliminating wasteful spending in the long run. 

Prop B has received support from the majority of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the BART Board Director, and others. Also, members of the San Francisco Laborers Local Union 261 are in favor. That includes city street cleaners, street and sewer repair crews, and pest control workers.  


Prop B’s main opponent is Larry Marso, who says this measure creates more unnecessary bureaucracy. He says it would do nothing to clean up the streets, including areas where most homeless people live. San Francisco Republican Party Chairman John Dennissays City Hall needs to put its efforts into better managing the existing Public Works department. 

So here's what it comes down to. If you want San Francisco to create and pay for a new department of sanitation and streets, vote yes on Prop B. If you’d rather have the Public Works department stay in charge of keeping the city clean, vote no.

Sonia Narang is the editor and project manager for KALW's Health & Equity series. Before that, she managed elections coverage for the station. Over the past decade, Sonia reported social justice stories from her home state of California and around the globe for PRI's The World radio program, NPR News, The Washington Post's The Lily, and more.