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2021: A Look Back

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A Digital Journal - San Francisco Public Works

In the Works

December 2021

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Coming Soon: Treecycle 2022!

Disposing of your Christmas tree might not be the most enjoyable holiday tradition, but thanks to Public Works and our partners at SF Environment and Recology, it doesn’t have to be a major inconvenience either.

While many family traditions were still on pause this year due to the pandemic, one tradition continues to thrive in San Francisco: recycling and mulching Christmas trees. City officials from SF Environment and San Francisco Public Works are reminding residents that their unadorned Christmas trees will be collected by Recology from Jan. 3 to Jan. 14, 2022.
Last January, San Francisco recycled more than 500 tons of Christmas trees, turning them into nutrient-rich mulch for landscaping projects.
Simply place your tree next to your blue recycling bin the night before your regular collection day between Jan. 3 and Jan. 14. Please remember to remove all tinsel, decorations, nails, plastic bags, stands, and lights – anything that had been added to the natural tree. If your tree measures more than 6 feet tall, please cut it in half. Trees should not be put into a plastic bag. Trees will be collected curbside by a dedicated truck on your regularly scheduled collection day.
Collected Christmas trees will be chipped and turned into mulch at Blossom Valley Organics North, a Recology composting facility.
Christmas tree-cycling helps keep San Francisco green and clean by reducing material sent to landfill and preventing improper disposal and illegal dumping. Additionally, the holidays are the biggest food weeks of the year in San Francisco. Historically, the tons of food scraps generated in San Francisco jumps by 17 percent in November and December, which is why it is important that everyone reduce their food waste and continue to use their green composting bin for coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetable peelings, chicken bones and other food and green-waste scraps. While plans may be different for so many San Francisco households, it’s still as important as ever to put waste in the right bins.
Recology’s holiday collection schedule is available on For more information email Recology at or call the company at (415) 330-1300.

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A Look Back
A Look Forward

As we get ready to welcome in 2022, we want to take time out to reflect on the past year and all that San Francisco Public Works accomplished. We opened an expansive portfolio of civic buildings, among them a fire station, a Navigation Center, a public health center and playgrounds to bolster the City’s resiliency and livability.


We completed streetscape improvements to make neighborhoods more inviting and safer for people who walk and bike. We launched a new operation that deep cleans the City’s eclectic commercial corridors. We grew community partnerships to jointly care for our neighborhoods. And we worked closely with other City agencies on COVID-response efforts.

This month’s In the Works digital journal provides a snapshot of just some of the 2021 initiatives. You will see that San Francisco Public Works is a diverse organization made up of engineers, street cleaners, architects, arborists, trades workers, landscape architects, IT specialists, accountants, outreach workers, graphic designers, surveyors, dispatchers, inspectors, asphalt workers, clerks and a cadre of others in the public works field. And at the end of the day, our workforce is made up of people – neighbors, daughters, sons, cousins, parents, friends.

We are an around-the-clock operation that takes pride in stepping up to the City’s challenges, leaning on our collective expertise and resolve to serve the people of San Francisco.

These are not easy times – in our city, the nation or the world. The lingering pandemic continues to test us. But as long as we work together to make things better, we’ll get through this all right. The winter solstice reminds us that from darkness comes light.

May your New Year be filled with happiness, good health and hope.


The relentless December rains have kept our street-repair crews busy filling potholes that inevitably emerge in wet weather. If water gets through a crack in the street, it can start to soften up the road’s base. When a lot of traffic, especially heavy trucks and buses, passes over, the cracks get bigger and eventually form potholes.

This year, our crews filled close to 3,500 potholes. A typical year has us responding to about 4,000. If you see one, please report it to San Francisco’s 311 customer service center so we can respond. If the problem is within Public Works’ jurisdiction, our aim is to get it patched within 72 hours.


November 18

City officials, elementary school students and community leaders inaugurated “Hop, Skip and Play on Omar Way ” – a 176-foot-long interactive sidewalk mural that sparks the imagination of young people and gets them moving.


November 10


Work wrapped up on a $15-million makeover of the Maxine Hall Health Center that includes seismic upgrades, expanded exam rooms for families and a much-needed elevator to improve accessibility at the two-story facility. 



October 24


San Francisco recorded 4.02 inches of rain, making it the fourth wettest day recorded since the Gold Rush era.​ The torrential downpour, coupled with high winds, took a toll on our urban forest: More than 900 service requests for toppled trees and fallen limbs landed in our work queue, but our Bureau of Urban Forestry crews didn’t miss a beat.


October 22

We cut the ribbon on the Jefferson Streetscape Improvements Project, with major improvements that include widened sidewalks, ADA-compliant curb ramps, new pedestrian-scale lighting, landscaping, new street trees, expanded public seating, bicycle parking and a redesigned narrow roadway with special concrete bands to promote slower vehicle speeds.

Geary Boulevard, one of the busiest corridors in San Francisco, got a much-needed overhaul that makes the street safer for pedestrians, more reliable for Muni bus riders and a more livable environment for neighboring communities.


October 20


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Throughout September

The Public Works structural engineering and building trades teams collaborated to make emergency repairs to the deteriorating façade of the historic Market Street Railway substation in the Fillmore District.

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September 18

One of San Francisco’s amazing green spaces, McLaren Park, is home to a cozy outdoor concert space – the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. We feted a small, $1.45 million renovation to the venue to make it more welcoming for performers and audience members.


September 18

This year’s Coastal Cleanup Day drew nearly 100 volunteers to Ocean Beach, where they scoured the beach and adjacent pathways for cigarette butts, candy wrappers, disposable masks and other trash that sullies the environment. Their haul was impressive, filling dozens of garbage bags with detritus that should have been disposed of properly in the first place.


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August 20

Carla Short, the longtime superintendent of the Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry, took on a new assignment this month as the department’s interim director.


August 14

The City celebrated the Bayview Gateway Project, located at Third Street and Meade Avenue at the southeastern edge of San Francisco. The newly landscaped space represents the diverse plants and wildlife of the adjacent Bayview Hill and boldly announces an entrance to the historic neighborhood. 

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Throughout August


We kicked off an expanded CleanCorridorsSF operation that deploys a large, coordinated team of Public Works street cleaners to different neighborhood commercial corridors to power wash and sweep the sidewalks, flush down the roads, dig out weeds and wipe out graffiti. The operation expanded to eight hours a week, allowing crews to deep clean at least 10 blocks – double the coverage as before.



July 28


We completed the Upper Haight Transit Improvement and Pedestrian Realm Project, which improves pedestrian safet, enhances transit efficiency and builds on the San Francisco neighborhood’s vibrant character.

July 20

On a typically foggy mid-July morning, the newly renovated Golden Gate Heights Park made its official debut to a crowd of excited neighbors, City officials and parks advocates. 

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In July

The Outer Sunset community welcomed the completion of the

L-Taraval Segment A Streetscape Project on Tavaral Street between the Great Highway and Sunset Boulevard.


Late June

A Public Works contractor redistributes more than 16,000 cubic yards of sand, moving it from the side of the Great Highway toward the ocean. The goal of the annual operation is to reduce the likelihood of sand buildup on the roadway during windy weather. Learn more.

Fire Station No. 49, the new 58,451-square-foot, four-story facility, opened with state-of-the-art technologies designed to meet the specialized needs of Emergency Medical Services staff, allowing them to better prepare their ambulances for deployment when responding to calls for medical emergencies and health crises. 


June 23


June 7

The City marked the rebirth of Shoreview Park, which underwent a $3.3 million renovation that includes a new lawn, landscaping, synthetic turf surfacing, new seating, outdoor fitness equipment and a picnic and barbecue area. 



Throughout May

One lasting change that came from the COVID-19 pandemic is San Francisco’s Shared Spaces Program, an initiative aimed to keep neighborhood businesses from going under by allowing them to construct socially distanced outdoor seating and commercial areas in the curb lane and on the sidewalk. Started as an emergency-relief effort in June 2020, Shared Spaces 2.0 emerged, providing more structure to the budding program.




April 28


The George Christopher Playground renovation, a beloved Mid-Century playground in San Francisco’s Diamond Heights neighborhood, reopened after a 1½-year makeover designed to expand accessibility and spark creative play for big and little kids.

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April 22

Public Works began a survey of the coast live oak, the most common San Francisco native street tree species. Our Bureau of Urban Forestry is surveying each of the oaks to assess their health and growing conditions.



March 25

We commemorated the completion of the transformative Second Street Improvements Project, which increases safety for people who walk and bike, improves Muni efficiency, replaces aging infrastructure, and offers a more welcoming environment along a busy South of Market corridor that connects major transit hubs and downtown.

For Arbor Day this year, our team, led by the Urban Forestry crew, planted a small grove of buckeye and coast live oak trees, plus a patch of wildflowers, on vacant land off of San Bruno Avenue in the Portola neighborhood.


March 13


March 8


The City unveiled the new, state-of-the-art San Francisco Animal Care & Control Center – built to serve San Francisco's animals and the humans who care for them.  

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In March

Garfield Square in the Mission District came to life with a renovated indoor pool, new clubhouse and a welcoming courtyard that knits the two together.



February 21


It’s not every day that you can watch a big house make its way down the streets of San Francisco. On a quiet Sunday morning, we helped facilitate the move of a 139-year-old Victorian from 807 Franklin St. to its new home at 635 Fulton St., about six blocks away in Hayes Valley.


Throughout February

Crews began targeting abandoned waste in the Bayview neighborhood’s known hotspots four days a week, Tuesday through Friday, up from the previous two-day-a-week operation.


February 12


Leading up to Lunar New Year, our street cleaners power washed alleyways, sidewalks and public trash cans; swept up litter; wiped out graffiti tags from the City’s street fixtures and storefront rollup doors; and scrubbed the Broadway Tunnel. 


Throughout February

Muni’s Forest Hill Station, the oldest subway station west of Chicago, had temporarily been empty of passengers when the COVID-19 health crisis forced the closure of the City’s subway for nearly a year. During the shutdown, our Paint Shop crews repainted the historic landmark.



In January

The City’s regionally tracked roadway Pavement Condition Index (PCI) score hit its 10-year goal of 75 out of 100, exceeding the region-wide average of 67. A PCI score of 75 puts the roads collectively in “good” condition, requiring mostly preventative maintenance. 

In January

San Francisco’s seventh Navigation Center opened its doors in the Bayview, providing a safe, healthy and welcoming shelter for people who had been living in encampments.


See you next year!

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