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A Digital Journal - San Francisco Public Works

In the Works

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June 2022

Tons of blue and yellow confetti rained down on Market Street at the celebratory Warriors’ victory parade, and Public Works crews armed with shovels, rakes and brooms were on hand to make sure it all got cleaned up.


Inspecting our Foundation

As part of our Racial Equity Action Plan, we  delved into our history to learn from past actions and illuminated how we can further promote racial equity. This special report looks at a handful of major moments in our history that have impacted communities – both positively and negatively.


Our Street Cleaning Warriors 
Handle Parades with Pride!

Hundreds of thousands of revelers came out for two gatherings this month – the Warriors NBA Championship parade and the annual Pride parade. After the celebrations, our cleaning crews worked their magic.


Beach Brigade: The Battle Against Sand Incursion Goes On

Our annual sand maintenance activities at Ocean Beach kicked off this month, with crews working to redistribute approximately 43,000 cubic yards of sand.


Showing Our Pride

From weeding and pruning the Glen Park Greenway to wiping out graffiti along the Bernal Cut,  volunteers joined together with Public Works crews for June’s Love Our City: Neighborhood Beautification Day.

Racial Equity Initiative
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What is racial equity?

A racially equitable society is a community where race does not determine the distribution of public services, health care, education, economic opportunities, housing and other resources.

Racial equity is providing all people with fair opportunities to reach their full potential and removing barriers that make it difficult for them to achieve.

San Francisco Public Works Racial Equity Initiative


In late 2019, SF Public Works launched a Racial Equity Initiative. The first action was to gather a 12-person, multi-racial working group - one that represented all of our divisions and many of our job classes - that would lead the work towards becoming an anti-racist organization.






This work was buoyed by Ordinance No 188-19 that required the formation of a citywide Office of Racial Equity as well as the development of racial equity action plans by each City department. 


In fall 2020, the SF Public Works Racial Equity Working Group did extensive outreach to gather experiences and ideas on how race and racism affect us individually and as a department. About 400 Public Works employees — or about a quarter of the total workforce — participated. It took time and courage to step into these difficult but necessary conversations. The Racial Equity Action Plan is rooted in these voices.


We know that discussions on race and racism are difficult and that each of us comes to anti-racist work with very different experiences, knowledge and vulnerabilities. With this Racial Equity Action Plan, we seek to build bridges so that together we can cement lasting organizational transformation – change that brings equity to our workplace and the services we provide.


The goal of the Racial Equity Action Plan is to transform our great department into an even better one — one that understands the impacts of historical and systemic racism on all of us and works to be a more equitable organization.


















And, as part of our Racial Equity Action Plan, we delved into our Public Works history and looked at it through a racial equity lens. In studying our history, we hope to learn from past actions and bring to light how Public Works can be more proactive in promoting racial equity in its policies, programs and services.


Check out the complete SF Public Works Racial Equity Action Plan Phase One.

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The pandemic didn’t stop the Public Works Racial Equity Cohort from meeting to work on the action plan.

Inspecting Our Foundation

A Reexamination of Public Works' History Through a Racial Equity Lens

For more than 120 years, San Francisco Public Works has played a crucial role in the growth, maintenance and regulation of the City’s streets, public buildings and built environment. While its jurisdiction and policy mandate have changed over the years, the importance of its role as a steward of the public right of way has only grown.


Public Works designs and manages construction of public buildings, playgrounds, plazas and infrastructure projects, manages the urban forest and works to ensure the cleanliness and safety of the City’s streets and sidewalks.

With this wide range of responsibility comes the capacity to profoundly impact the lives and livelihoods of the nearly 900,000 people who call San Francisco home.


Historically, Public Works’ projects and policies have had a mixed impact on the people of San Francisco. On one level, they have been a major driver of progress and innovation – buildings and roads are safer, sidewalks are more accessible and the City has a robust urban forest. These benefits, however, have not traditionally been apportioned evenly among San Francisco’s various neighborhoods and demographic groups, and at times the pursuit of these ends have actively hurt and marginalized the City’s communities of color. What may seem like progress to some can mean dispossession and displacement for others.  

This report will discuss a handful of major moments in Public Works history that have disproportionately impacted and at times harmed the City’s communities of color.

Primary researcher and author:

Benjamin Peterson, Public Works Communications Team

with support from the Public Works Racial Equity Working Group: 

Alexandra Bidot, Planning and Performance 
Beth Rubenstein, Policy and Communications
DeShelia "Nikki" Mixon, Bureau of Urban Forestry
Guillermo Perez, Street and Environmental Services
Jin Zhao, Infrastructure Design Construction
Jon Swae, Bureau of Urban Forestry
Julian Pham, Communications
Julie An, Building Design Construction
Jumoke Akin-Taylor, Building Design Construction
Nosa Ikponmwonba, Infrastructure Design Construction
Patrick Rivera, Infrastructure Design Construction
Siobhan Kelly, University of Public Works

and University of San Francisco interns: Elliana Butler and Sofia Sanchez

Designed by Julian Pham, Public Works Communication Team

1901 - 1934                   Water for San Francisco, Destruction for the Miwok

1933 - 1939                   The New Deal's Influence on San Francisco's Workforce Diversity

1944 - 1960                   The Removal of Public Transport without Public Consent

1949                               Urban Renewal Means Community Removal

1960s - 1970s                Public Works Plays Pivotal Role in Struggle Over International Hotel

1981 - today                  Responding to Homelessness and Street Behavior

1984 - today                  The Long Struggle for Equity in City Contracting

1840s - 1990s                Overturning a History of Neglect in Chinatown

2021                               Displays of Protest and Political Speech in the Public Right of Way

Today                             Growing San Francisco's Urban Forest for Everyone


1901 - 1934

Water for San Francisco, Destruction for the Miwok

The California Gold Rush brought a population boom to San Francisco and a need to build an infrastructure that could accommodate it. In the aftermath of the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire, that need became a top economic and political priority for San Francisco's leaders – including securing a reliable water source for the rapidly growing city. 

The City considered many potential reservoir locations throughout Northern California, with Public Works providing surveying and engineering consultation. 


After decades of intense debate and power struggles, the Hetch Hetchy Valley, located about 200 miles from San Francisco and part of Yosemite National Park, was chosen as the ideal source for the City’s water.


Once the site was chosen, Public Works oversaw the construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam and a system of aqueducts that connected it to San Francisco. 

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Photos: San Francisco Public Library

While the project was successful in providing water to the residents of San Francisco, it had a devastating impact on the lives of the Ahwahnechee and Tuolumne peoples of the Sierra Miwok tribes, inhabitants of this land for thousands of years. Once the heart of their cultural, ancestral and communal life, the valley was flooded to create the Hetch Hetchy reservoir.


Photo: Sierra College


Miwok Tribe members Callipene and Lena Brown in 1901

Photo: National Park Service

1933 - 1939

The New Deal's Influence
on San Francisco's Workforce Diversity

The Great Depression, which began in 1929 with a stock market crash, shattered the global economy and left tens of millions of people unemployed. In response to this unprecedented crisis, President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted a series of economic reforms called the New Deal.


The unemployed line up for a meal at Ritch and Clara streets.

Photo: Open History SF

A key piece of New Deal legislation was the National Recovery Act of 1933, which established the Public Works Administration (PWA). The PWA provided money for public construction and infrastructure projects to be carried out in the open market by private firms. 


Over the next decade, Public Works awarded and administered contracts for dozens of PWA-funded projects throughout San Francisco, including sewer improvement projects, updates to the auxiliary water supply system, boulevard construction and street repaving.


Construction of the University Mound Reservoir, which was part of a $12,000,000 improvement program for the PWA-funded expansion of the Hetch Hetchy system.


Photo: Western Construction News August 1937

What made the PWA’s system truly innovative, however, was its programmatic focus on promoting racial equity.

From its onset, the PWA implemented hiring quotas for all projects it funded to ensure that minority (especially Black) workers had access to work opportunities. This action became a model for subsequent equal opportunity efforts, including many that the City of San Francisco currently has in place, such as minority- and women-owned contracting preferences and local hiring ordinances.  


1944 - 1960

Municipal Railway Streetcar Removal 

Between 1944 and 1960, the San Francisco Municipal Railway (the precursor to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) undertook a major restructuring of the City's transportation system. The transit agency enlisted the help of Public Works to manage the removal of a vast majority of the City's streetcar rails so the streets could be paved over to prioritize buses and private vehicles.

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Traxcavator removing streetcar track at 9th Street with L Taraval streetcar passing on Market Street | April 12, 1948


Photo: Marshall Moxom, Municipal Railway Photographer | SFMTA Photo Archive

This initiative prioritized the desires of those who could afford to own cars at the expense of those who could not. Those who could not afford cars were also more likely to be people of color, as evidenced by the overall wealth and income disparities that existed then and persist today. By 1960, Public Works, under Muni's direction, had dismantled 116 miles of streetcar rails across the City, many of them located in the Fillmore and Western Addition redevelopment areas. 

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Removal of outer streetcar tracks on Market Street near 3rd Street | May 5, 1949


Photo: Marshall Moxom, Municipal Railway Photographer | SFMTA Photo Archive


Urban Renewal Means Community Removal

In 1949, the Federal Housing Act was enacted, which empowered and provided funding for city governments to redevelop areas considered to be “blighted” or “slums.” This set off a process known as “redevelopment” or “urban renewal,” which would fundamentally alter the character and demographics of many of the nation’s urban communities of color. 


Fillmore and Western Addition neighborhoods

A map drawn more than 80 years ago indicates the San Francisco residential zones that are "best" in green, "still desirable" in blue, "definitely declining" in yellow, and "hazardous" in red. 

From the Home Owners' Loan Corporation guide (1937):

"Green areas are 'hot spots'; they are not yet fully built up. They are homogeneous; in demand as residential locations in 'good time' or 'bad'; hence 'on the upgrade.'

"Blue areas, as a rule, are completely developed. They are like a 1935 automobile still good, but not what the people are buying today who can afford a new one."

"Yellow areas are characterized by age, obsolescence, and change of style; expiring restrictions or lack of them; infiltration of a lower grade population; the presence of influences which increase sales resistance such as inadequate transportation, insufficient utilities, perhaps heavy tax burdens, poor maintenance of homes, etc. 'Jerry' built areas are included, as well as neighborhoods lacking homogeneity."

"Red areas represent those neighborhoods in which the things that are now taking place in the Yellow neighborhoods have already happened. They are characterized by detrimental influences in a pronounced degree, undesirable population or infiltration of it. Unstable incomes of the people and difficult collections are usually prevalent."


In San Francisco, redevelopment projects occurred in many neighborhoods, but were most impactful in the Fillmore and Western Addition, which at that time had the City’s largest Black and Japanese-American populations. 


Redevelopment site in the Western Addition

Photo: San Francisco Public Library

Through its Urban Renewal Division, Public Works conducted thousands of building inspections on behalf of the Redevelopment Agency in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The first step of the redevelopment process was to inspect the building quality and living conditions in target areas. The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency was the first municipal department to conduct these inspections, but they soon solicited the services of the Public Works Bureau of Building Inspection to expedite and ramp up the process.

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Redevelopment site at Geary Boulevard and Fillmore Street.

Photo: San Francisco Public Library

While neighborhoods with large Black, Latinx and Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations, such as the Western Addition and the Fillmore, were subject to widespread building condemnation and demolition, the City’s efforts in whiter, more affluent areas focused on building conservation.    

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Redevelopment site in the Western Addition, 1970.

Photo: San Francisco Public Library

1960s - 1970s

Public Works Plays Pivotal Role
in Struggle Over International Hotel

Located along 10 blocks of Kearny Street, San Francisco’s Manilatown neighborhood was home to some 30,000 Filipinos and served as the cultural and economic hub for the City’s Filipino community from the 1920s to the 1970s. At the geographic and spiritual heart of Manilatown stood the International Hotel, a residential hotel that housed roughly 200 working-class, predominantly elderly Filipinos. 


By the late 1960s, the owner of the hotel had begun pursuing plans to demolish and replace it with a parking structure, which would inevitably destroy a beloved community gathering space while displacing its residents and leaving them without adequate replacement housing. 

Public Works, which at the time oversaw building permits, allowed the demolition to proceed through the administrative process. Despite strong community opposition, the International Hotel eventually was razed in 1979. 


Officers, fully dressed in riot gear and armed with clubs and sledgehammers face off against protestors defending the International Hotel. 

1981 - today

Responding to Homelessness and Street Behavior

For the last half-century, homelessness has been one of San Francisco’s most intractable problems, vexing generations of policymakers, activists and voters.


On Jan. 28, 1986, Mayor Dianne Feinstein and members of her administration walk through an encampment slated for dismantling near Seventh and Berry streets. 


Photo: Steve Ringman, The Chronicle

In addition to being a public health, safety, law enforcement and civil rights issue, San Francisco’s homelessness crisis also has a racial justice element, as Black and Latinx San Franciscans make up a disproportionate segment of the City’s homeless population. 

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San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey Comprehensive Report 2019

Since 1981, San Francisco has passed more regulations governing unhoused people’s actions in public spaces than any other city in California - the most controversial of these being the confiscation, storage or disposal of belongings that accumulate and obstruct the public right of way or pose a public health risk.


As stewards of the City’s public right of way, Public Works regularly interacts with San Francisco’s unhoused population in a variety of ways. 

The City’s encampment clearance protocols, which are a joint effort involving the multi-agency Healthy Streets Operations Center, Public Works and the Police Department, remain a constant source of controversy and disagreement between the unhoused community, advocates and City officials.

​Typically, the cycle adheres to the following format: the Healthy Streets Operations Center team conducts outreach, offering a combination of shelter options and health and social services before an encampment can be cleared. At that time, people living at the encampments have the option of taking their belongings with them or having them “bagged and tagged,” which means the items are logged and stored by Public Works for later retrieval. Abandoned items, food and items that are soiled or moldy are thrown away. Public Works posts notices at the site in English, Spanish and Chinese with information on the retrieval process.  People also have a right to file a legal claim against the City if they feel their items were discarded in violation of the bag and tag policy. Once the Healthy Streets Operations Center conducts an encampment resolution at a specific location, the City may take steps to keep people from setting up camp there again. In addition to encampment cleanups, Public Works has been involved in several other proactive initiatives involving San Francisco’s unhoused population.

The Navigation Center program is a reimagining of the traditional homeless shelter model. Public Works plays a central role in this program, as it provides an array of construction and project management services while also overseeing landscape and architectural design, permitting, site remediation and post-construction site cleaning around the exterior of the facilities.

Unlike most traditional shelters, Navigation Centers allow residents to bring their belongings, stay with significant others and pets and receive a much wider array of on-site services. They also can come and go as they please. Despite these differences, some unhoused people still refuse entry to Navigation Centers due to concerns about their safety, congregate sleeping quarters and rules.

Pit Stops – free, staffed, public toilets – are available for anyone to use, but they are located in areas with large populations of unhoused people who don’t have consistent access to toilets. Aside from providing much-needed public restrooms, the Pit Stop program also functions as a workforce development program for people who face barriers to employment, such as the formerly incarcerated and high school dropouts – two populations in San Francisco that are also disproportionally Black and Latinx. The Pit Stops program is just one of several workforce development initiatives that Public Works runs. Since its inception in 2014, the Pit Stops program has grown dramatically and has inspired cities around the world to implement similar programs.  

1984 - today

The Long Struggle for Equity in City Contracting

In April 1984, the Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance 139-84, stating its intent to address identified discriminatory practices in the City's contracting practices that result in the exclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses as contractors, as well as to address the economic disadvantages faced by local businesses. Subsequent studies commissioned by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission throughout the mid-1980s investigated the City's contracting processes, confirming the Board of Supervisors' suspicions of a dramatic under-representation of local, minority- and women-owned businesses to be mostly accurate.

This investigation led to further legislative action. In the late 1980s, the City instituted a series of bid preferences for these marginalized businesses in hopes of increasing their involvement in publicly funded work. Over the ensuing decades, we’ve seen improvements with the contracting rates of locally owned businesses, but stagnation in minority- and women-owned business contracting still exists both citywide and with Public Works. 

1840s - 1990s

Overturning a History of Neglect in Chinatown

A staggering 41 alleyways crisscross San Francisco’s Chinatown, a neighborhood defined by both its extreme density and its deep cultural heritage. Chinatown’s lack of open, outdoor space has made these alleyways especially important in serving as a collective front yard where children play and adults socialize. 


A woman stands in a doorway located in Wentworth Alley, 1890.

Photo: Open History SF

Until the late 1990s however, these alleyways were deprived of many City services, including garbage collection and street cleaning. For decades, the City’s prevailing justification against providing services to these alleyways was that they were private rather than public streets and therefore not within the City’s jurisdiction. 

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Clockwise from top:

Unknown alley in Chinatown, 1880. Photo: San Francisco Public Library

Ross Alley, 1898. Photo:

Unknown alley in Chinatown, 1880. Photo: San Francisco Public Library

This perspective remained largely unexamined and unchallenged until the early 1990s when Jasmine Kaw, then a landscape architecture intern with Public Works who concurrently was doing research for her master's thesis at UC Berkeley, made a crucial discovery.

While searching through Public Works’ Bureau of Street Mapping’s “Street Book” – a legal document that serves as the official record for which of San Francisco’s streets are public and which are private – Kaw found that a majority of Chinatown’s alleyways are legally classified as public streets, therefore entitling them to City services. Upon making this discovery, Kaw and her community partners at the Chinatown Community Development Center brought this to the City’s attention, and Public Works began facilitating regular garbage collection and street cleaning services in Chinatown’s alleyways shortly thereafter. 


A Public Works street cleaner in Chinatown’s Jack Kerouac Alley, 2021


 Displays of Protest and Political Speech
in the Public Right of Way

During the popular uprising in support of racial justice in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, a handful of murals, banners and pieces of street art supporting police reform, justice for the victims of police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement were installed across San Francisco. 


The words "Black Lives Matter," painted in bright yellow block lettering, stretch out over three city blocks on Fulton Street, between Webster and Octavia streets. 


Since many of these public art pieces were along public rights of way, they came under Public Works’ jurisdiction. Some San Franciscans who lived in the vicinity of these murals complained about their presence, claiming that they contained controversial, anti-police messages. Despite these complaints, Public Works kept most of these murals and banners up, a decision that was rooted in the department’s policy to only remove hate speech or profanity, or if the street murals pose a traffic or safety hazard.

"Bernal Rock" boulder in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights. (CBS)

Going forward, the department, in collaboration with other City agencies, hopes to formally establish standards for non-commercial murals in the public right of way, integrating community input into the process while preserving the right to free speech and sticking with the department’s current rules against hate speech. As Public Works continues its path to become a more racially equitable department in both its internal and external operations, it must remain responsive to a San Francisco populace that is similarly prioritizing racial equity, while protecting the fair application of First Amendment-protected speech. 


Growing San Francisco's Urban Forest for Everyone

Caring for the City's street trees is one of the many ways Public Works looks after San Francisco's public rights of way. Living in a location with a robust tree canopy has various environmental advantages, including improved air quality, better stormwater retention, carbon dioxide sequestration and lowering air temperature. Street trees also boost mental health and enhance the pedestrian experience. 

Whiter, wealthier neighborhoods continue to have more street tree canopy coverage than those with larger Black, Latinx and Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations. 

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Mayor Christopher and others during a tree planting ceremony on Geary Boulevard in 1959.

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Source: EarthDefine
Chart shows data on census tracts with at least 1,000 residents.

The City’s Urban Forest Plan, which was devised with Public Works input and released in 2015, has the primary goal of minimizing these disparities while continuing to grow San Francisco's street tree canopy.  


In our current time of looming climate crises, widening economic inequality and an ongoing fight for racial justice, it is more important than ever for municipal agencies like Public Works to reckon with their past in hopes of pursuing a more equitable and just future. This report, and the department’s Racial Equity Action Plan as a whole, is intended to begin that process by recounting a series of pivotal moments in the department’s history. To this end, we present these specific historical examples for two primary reasons: They are some of the most momentous policy programs in San Francisco’s history, and they exemplify the variety of ways that Public Works’ bureaus interact with and impact the public. Public Works’ wide range of responsibilities, which include contracting, permitting, construction management, street cleaning and infrastructure design and maintenance, impact San Francisco’s diverse constituencies in many ways and necessitate a thorough and thoughtful analysis. It is our hope that this report has fulfilled that goal or, at the very least, serves as a catalyst to get people thinking about government actions and consequences. 

There are, of course, many other policies, events and time periods that warrant exploration and analysis through a racial equity lens. Among these events are the redevelopment projects that took place in neighborhoods other than the Fillmore and Western Addition – among them Yerba Buena, South of Market, Visitacion Valley and the Golden Gateway. Programs and policies outlined earlier in this report not only transformed the built environment and caused the displacement of thousands of people of color in the Western Addition, but also in these other neighborhoods. This report’s most glaring omission, and the one that deserves the most future research, is its relative lack of discussion about how Public Works’ policies and programs have impacted San Francisco’s Latinx, Chinese-American and Japanese-American populations. These groups make up a large portion of San Francisco’s population over the past 100-plus years and remain a vital part of the City’s cultural fabric. To maintain these communities’ vitality and avoid mass displacement, it is important to revisit their histories and examine how Public Works’ policies and programs have affected them. 

The core dilemma that this report hopes to bring to light is how Public Works can be more proactive in promoting racial equity in its policies and programs despite its limited policymaking powers. In addition, the report invites discussion on how Public Works, both in its entirety and its individual employees, can resist racially inequitable policies that the department is charged with enforcing. To address these twin dilemmas, we must first determine Public Works’ level of autonomy in shaping, cooperating with or mitigating actions that the department is directed or obligated to perform. Though Public Works employees do not have total control over the policies that they are obligated to perform – this is largely the territory of the Mayor, Board of Supervisors and voters – they should be willing to speak up if they believe that proposed or already-enacted policies cause harm. Navigating this dynamic will be a difficult process, but a necessary one if Public Works is to become a department that thoroughly and consistently prioritizes racial equity in all its policies and programs. 

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In Snapshots: Racial Justice, we shine a spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement for racial equity. Listen to these Snapshots of our colleagues' lives as they share their experiences with bias and social injustice – and their hopes moving forward. Everybody has a story and everybody deserves to be heard.

Check out podcast series!

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Confetti – exciting to watch come down, not so easy to pick up – lined the Warriors’ victory parade route.


This month, San Francisco showed once again that we’re a city that loves to celebrate, with hundreds of thousands of revelers coming out in full force for two high-spirited civic gatherings – the Golden State Warriors NBA Championship parade and the annual Pride parade.

Public Works’ well-choreographed street cleaning teams showed up at both events in force – with know-how and resolve to get the streets and sidewalks back in good shape after the crowds cleared out. 

Downtown San Francisco was buzzing on the morning of June 20, and not just because the weather was approaching 80 degrees. The Warriors had just won their fourth NBA championship in eight years, beating the Boston Celtics in a thrilling six-game series.  

That morning, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of the Bay Area’s beloved ballers descended upon Market Street for the team’s first championship parade since moving back to San Francisco in 2019. Joining the swell of fans who flocked to Market Street in celebration of their team’s triumph were Public Works’ street cleaning crews. They stood at the ready to take on the avalanche of trash – totaling 76,000 pounds – the event would produce. 

Public Works’ crews use a variety of tools and trucks to clean the parade route.

Each step was carefully mapped out beforehand, with the operation unfolding in layers. 

Once the parade passed down a block and the sea of onlookers dispersed, the crowd-control barricades lining both sides of the street were removed, signaling the start of the cleanup.

Equipped with large push brooms, shovels and rakes, our street cleaners, swept up the layers of blue and yellow confetti and collected homemade signs, water bottles and other trash, organizing the refuse into more easily manageable piles. Unfortunately, some revelers took to joyfully jumping on the heaps, dispersing the trash and making for a more prolonged cleanup mission. But that didn’t deter our crews. Armed with leaf blowers, they corralled the errant confetti and quickly loaded the haul into garbage trucks.

Following the manual work, a fleet of mechanical sweeper trucks came through, vacuuming up the remaining trash. The flusher trucks capped the operation, washing down the roadway and giving the area a freshly scrubbed look and feel. 


In all, nearly 50 Public Works street cleaners worked 20 hours to get the parade route back in shape following the championship festivities. 


Public Works had a large team working the Warriors parade, from boots-on-the-ground workers to people working behind the scenes directing the action on the street.

Only six short days later, downtown got back into party mode – this time for San Francisco’s 52nd-annual Pride festivities.

This event, a time-honored tradition and major source of civic pride, attracts members of LGBTQIA+ communities and allies from around the world. This weekend-long celebration of love, acceptance and equality culminates in a jubilant street gathering that stretches along Market Street from The Embarcadero to Civic Center.

Parade Cleanups

Last but not least – our parade contingent, adorned in Pride colors, was the finale to yet another fabulous event, right before our cleaning crews came in to start their work.

The procession includes a veritable who’s-who of San Francisco politics and culture – local politicians, LGBTQIA+ community leaders and activists, a wide variety of nonprofits and community groups, as well as Bay Area-based businesses.  

The Public Works street team was primed once again, employing the same successful playbook we put together for cleaning up after the Warriors victory parade.


Following the parade, our crews worked non-stop to clean every last bit of litter up along the entire route – from The Embarcadero to Civic Center Plaza.

While our crews were on the ground at both parades, there was a lot of work being done behind the scenes at our Department Operations Center, located at our Operations Yard in the Bayview. There, staff continually monitored the cleanup’s progress, tracked and dispatched resources to areas of need and maintained real-time communications with other City departments, event organizers and cleaning staff. 


What parade? Market Street looks immaculate after our street cleaning crews went through with sweepers and flushers.

After each of these two Herculean cleanup efforts, Market Street returned to routine. We were excited to be a part of these momentous events and are very proud of our cleaning crews’ hard work. 

Here’s to many more championship parades and civic celebrations of all kinds in the future! We hope to see you there because we surely will be. 

Public Works raises the Pride flag at our

Operations Yard for the first time ever.

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Sand Relocation

An excavator moves sand toward the Pacific Ocean.

Beach Brigade:
The Battle Against Sand Incursion Goes On

Our annual sand maintenance activities at Ocean Beach kicked off this month, with crews working to redistribute approximately 43,000 cubic yards of sand. Their aim: reduce the likelihood of sand buildup on the adjacent Great Highway during windy weather. 

Skilled Public Works’ Operations employees are using front-end loaders, backhoes and other heavy machinery to reduce the height and width of the sand dunes and move sand away from the roadway toward the ocean – efforts that have been shown in past years to delay the natural progression of sand incursion onto the Great Highway. 

The operation began June 14 and is expected to take about three weeks to complete.

Crews are removing sand at the seawall between Noriega and Santiago streets. The project also is addressing the excessive accumulation of sand at Judah Street and other hard-hit areas.  

A bulldozer works in tandem with an excavator to relocate the sand off the Great Highway.

Sporadic closures of the Great Highway, due to the buildup of windblown sand on the roadway, normally occur every year during the winter and spring months. In recent years, however, sand buildup has worsened significantly due to climate change, drought and sustained high winds.

Public Works has a small window to perform the annual sand redistribution work; it must be timed to make sure crews do not disturb the Western Snowy Plover, a small shorebird that is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The plovers can be found at Ocean Beach about 10 months out of the year but take off in the spring or early summer to nest in other coastal areas and inland salt flats. Monitors with the federal Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) have confirmed that the plovers have left Ocean Beach and that it is safe to begin relocating the sand. 


A large pile of sand blocks one of the southbound lanes of the Great Highway.

The work is being done in coordination with the GGNRA and under a special-use permit for activities that occur on federal parklands.

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Love Our City

Showing Our Pride

From weeding and pruning the Glen Park Greenway to wiping out graffiti along the Bernal Cut, an energetic group of nearly 150 community volunteers joined together with Public Works crews for June’s Love Our City: Neighborhood Beautification Day.

The June 4 Pride Month event kicked off at Mission High School. We were joined by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman who thanked Public Works staff and volunteers for coming out to work on improvement projects in the Castro, Glen Park, Noe Valley and other neighborhoods he represents in District 8. The morning saw seasoned volunteers and newcomers of all ages, and highlighted all the good that can happen when we work together.


Determined volunteers weed the Arlington Green Space in Glen Park for the June Neighborhood Beautification Day event.

In July, our monthly volunteer workday puts the focus on Cow Hollow, Laurel Heights, the Marina and other neighborhoods in District 2. The 9 a.m. kickoff will be held at Galileo High School, 1150 Francisco Street. Registration starts a half hour earlier. Click on this link to sign up, or visit


We hope to see you there!


Thanks for reading!

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