2022 Street & Sidewalk Maintenance Standards Report

May 22, 2023

Key findings from the annual report

This report provides an overview of the current condition of San Francisco's streets and sidewalks.

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About the program

The Street and Sidewalk Standards Program is an annual assessment of the cleanliness and appearance of public streets and sidewalks. The feature scores presented in this report, in percentage (%), tell us the likelihood (odds) of anyone experiencing specific ratings when randomly visiting any street segment in 2022. 

We all play a part in maintaining San Francisco’s street and sidewalk cleanliness.


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What and where we evaluated

The evaluation team assessed 3,000+ sampled street and sidewalk segments by reviewing 14 specific features below. This new set of features is evaluated differently from past reports, using the new version of the evaluation standards. 

Click here to view the updated standards.

Evaluation features:

Streets only:

  • Street litter

Sidewalks only:

  • Sidewalk litter
  • Trash receptacles 
  • Sidewalk clearance
  • Sidewalk pavement condition

Streets and sidewalks together:

  • Illegal dumping
  • Hazards (broken glass, feces, syringes, used/open condoms, dead animals, odors)
  • Graffiti
  • Transit shelters

 

The team conducted evaluations across San Francisco geographically in two surveys: The Core Citywide Survey and the Key Commercial Areas Survey. 

Core Citywide Survey

The Core Citywide Survey includes 957 randomly selected street segments, comprised of 817 evaluations in residential areas and 140 evaluations in commercial areas. This sufficiently sized sample represents all the streets and sidewalks across the entire City and County San Francisco. However, due to insufficient sample sizes at the neighborhood-level in the Core Citywide survey, neighborhood-level results are not reported here. 

Map showing all evaluation routes in the Core Citywide Survey.
Map of all evaluation routes in the Core Citywide Survey.

Key Commercial Areas Survey

The Key Commercial Areas Survey consists of routes selected from high traffic commercial street segments across the City using the historical volume of 311 requests for service within neighborhoods. The Survey focuses on the 769 high-use corridors selected from commercial, industrial, or mixed-use street segments. 

Click here to explore the Key Commercial Area Survey data on the Street and Sidewalk Program home page.

Map showing all evaluation routes in the Key Commercial Areas Survey.
Map of all evaluation routes in the Key Commercial Areas Survey.

    Note about neighborhood level analysis:

    It should be noted that the neighborhood-level results presented below represent findings in Key Commercial Areas only.

    In addition, to account for neighborhoods with small sample sizes we combined some neighborhoods into two new merged neighborhoods. We took this approach to avoid misrepresenting survey findings in neighborhoods where fewer evaluations were conducted. 

    Click here to view the full methodology.


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    Key findings

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    Streets

    64% of Key Commercial Area evaluations have street litter

    The chart below shows the percent of evaluated routes in both the Key Commercial Areas and Core Citywide Survey that street litter was present. 64% of routes in the Key Commercial Areas Survey and 41% of routes in the Core Citywide Survey contained moderate to severe amounts of street litter. 

    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with street litter
    Percentage of evaluation routes with street litter present.
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results for street litter, with darker shades of purple representing higher severity levels. 

    Map showing percent of evaluations with street litter by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluations with street litter by neighborhood. 

    The map below shows the average rating per street segment for street litter. 

    Map showing evaluation areas with varying levels of street litter
    Map showing severity of street litter by evaluation route.
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    Sidewalks

    44% of evaluations have sidewalk litter

    44% of the sampled sidewalks had moderate to severe levels of sidewalk litter in the Core Citywide Survey. However, there was much more sidewalk litter in Key Commercial Areas at 67%.

    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with sidewalk litter present
    Percentage of evaluation routes with sidewalk litter present.
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results for sidewalk litter, with darker shades of purple representing higher severity levels.

    Map showing severity of sidewalk litter by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluations with sidewalk litter by neighborhood. 

    The map below shows the average rating per street segment for sidewalk litter.

    Map showing evaluation areas with varying levels of sidewalk litter
    Map showing sidewalk litter ratings for the Key Commercial Areas Survey.

    8% of evaluated sidewalks had overflowing trash

    Trash receptacles on the sidewalks can be another source of litter, especially if the receptacle is full or overflowing. 8% of evaluations had overflowing trash in the Citywide survey. Similarly, 11% of evaluations in Key Commercial areas reported trash overflowing from receptacles.

    Chart showing percentage of overflowing trash bins in the Core Citywide Survey.
    Percentage of evaluation routes with overflowing trash bins present.
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas 

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results, with darker shades of purple representing higher occurrences of overflowing trash.

    Map showing percent of evaluations with overflowing trash by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluations with overflowing trash by neighborhood.

    The map below shows the street segments where overflowing trash was observed. 

    Map showing shows the average rating per street segment for routes that had a trash receptacle present.
    Map showing shows the average rating per street segment for routes that had a trash receptacle present. 

    More than 30% of evaluated sidewalks had clearance issues

    This category evaluates if larger objects, such as a tree branch, litter, or other bulky items obstructed a sidewalk. In the Core Citywide Survey, 31% of evaluations had clearance issues; in Key Commercial Areas, 12% of busy sidewalks had obstructed pathways.

    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with sidewalk clearance issues.
    Percentage of evaluation routes with sidewalk clearance issues
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results, with darker shades of purple representing higher occurrences of sidewalk clearance issues.

    Map showing percent of evaluations with sidewalk clearance issues by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluations with sidewalk clearance issues by neighborhood.

    The map below shows the street segments where sidewalk clearance issues were observed. 

    Map showing sidewalk clearance issues by street segment.
    Map showing sidewalk clearance issues by street segment.

    75% of evaluated sidewalks have moderate to severe pavement defects

    The surveys examine the condition and quality of the sidewalk pavement, including cracking, breakage, and uneven surfaces. In the core Core Citywide Survey, 75% of observations indicated moderate to severe defects in pavement conditions. The severity of pavement conditions was the same in Key Commercial Areas, with 75% of evaluations indicating moderate to severe pavement defects.

    Chart showing percent of evaluation routes with sidewalk pavement issues.
    Chart showing percent of evaluation routes with sidewalk pavement issues.
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results for sidewalk pavement defects, with darker shades of purple representing higher severity levels.

    Map showing percent of evaluations with sidewalk defects by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluations with sidewalk defects by neighborhood.

    The map below shows the average rating per street segment for sidewalk pavement condition.

    Map showing street segments with sidewalk pavement issues.
    Map showing street segments with sidewalk pavement issues.
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    Streets and Sidewalks Together

    More than 30% of evaluations report illegal dumping

    Illegal dumping includes large abandoned items and debris on both the street and sidewalk. 36% of evaluations in the Core Citywide Survey found illegal dumping, and 49% of the evaluations in Key Commercial Areas had illegal dumping present.

    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with illegal dumping
    Percentage of evaluation routes with illegal dumping
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results for illegal dumping, with darker shades of purple representing higher occurrences.

    Map showing percent of evaluation routes with illegal dumping by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluation routes with illegal dumping by neighborhood.

    The map below shows the street segments where illegal dumping was observed.  

    Map showing evaluation routes with illegal dumping present.
    Map showing evaluation routes with illegal dumping present.

     

    More than 80% of transit shelters on evaluated streets & sidewalks had cleanliness issues

    The survey evaluated the physical structure and space within the transit shelter, as well as the area immediately next to the shelter. About 83% of transit shelters in the Core Citywide survey had at least one type of cleanliness issue, such as litter, overflowing trash, or illegal dumping, among other issues. Key Commercial Areas were much more likely to have transit shelters present, and of these, more than 90% had cleanliness issues.

    Chart showing evaluation routes that had cleanliness issues at transit shelters.
    Chart showing evaluation routes that had cleanliness issues at transit shelters.

    About 20% of evaluated streets & sidewalks have graffiti, but graffiti more common in commercial areas

    Graffiti is another important street and sidewalk evaluation feature that includes illicit text, symbols, and images marked on buildings, sidewalks, street pavement, trees, and other stationary objects that are visible to the public. In the Core Citywide Survey, 21% of evaluations found moderate to severe levels of graffiti. In contrast, Key Commercial Areas were far more likely to have moderate to severe graffiti at 71%.

    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with graffiti present
    Percentage of evaluation routes with graffiti present
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results for graffiti, with darker shades of purple representing higher severity levels.

    Map showing percent of evaluations with graffiti by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluations with graffiti by neighborhood.

    The map below shows the average rating per street segment for graffiti. 

    Map showing severity of graffiti by street segment.
    Map showing severity of graffiti by street segment.

    Hazards

    Almost 50% of city streets and sidewalks report broken glass

    Broken glass was fairly common in both the Core Citywide Survey (47%), as well as in Key Commercial Areas (58%).

    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with broken glass present
    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with broken glass present
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results for broken glass, with darker shades of purple representing higher occurrences.

    Map showing percent of evaluation routes with broken glass present by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluation routes with broken glass present by neighborhood.

    The map below shows the street segments where broken glass was observed.   

    Map showing evaluation routes with broken glass present.
    Map showing evaluation routes with broken glass present.
    About 30% of evaluated streets and sidewalks report feces

    Observations of human and animal feces were less common in the Core Citywide sample, with about 30% of evaluations observing feces on the street or sidewalk.  In contrast, almost half (47%) of evaluations in all Key Commercial Areas observed feces. 

    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with feces present
    Chart showing percentage of evaluation routes with feces present
    Neighborhood level analysis for Key Commercial Areas

    The map below shows neighborhood-level results for feces, with darker shades of purple representing higher occurrences.

    Map showing percent of evaluation routes with feces present by neighborhood.
    Map showing percent of evaluation routes with feces present by neighborhood.

    The map below shows the street segments where feces was observed.

    Map showing evaluation routes with feces present.
    Map showing evaluation routes with feces present.
    Other hazards

    Other hazards, such as dead animals, syringes, condoms, and odors were rarely observed. When reported, these hazards were concentrated in the Mission, Tenderloin, and South of Market, with fewer issues on other areas of the City.

     


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    Results Overview

    Feature

    Core Citywide Survey

    (% issue present)

    Key Commercial Areas 

    (% issue present)

    Street litter 41% moderate to severe 64% moderate to severe
    Sidewalk litter 44% moderate to severe 67% moderate to severe

    Overflowing

    trash receptacles

    8% 11%
    Sidewalk clearance 31% 12%

    Sidewalk

    pavement defects

    75% moderate to severe 75% moderate to severe
    Illegal dumping 36% 49%
    Broken glass 47% 58%
    Feces 30% 47%
    Syringes 1% 3%
    Condoms 0.1% 0.5%
    Dead animals 5% 0.5%
    Odors 2% 3%
    Graffiti 20% moderate to severe 71% moderate to severe
    Transit shelters 83% 91%

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     What's next: further research

    This is the first year the Controller’s Office evaluated streets and sidewalks using the new Evaluation Standards. Based on CY22 findings, the Controller’s Office plans to focus on refining the evaluation methodology in the 2023 survey.

    This collaborative process with SF Public Works will drive deeper analytical work that aims to support operational decisions. Year-over-year results will be annually reported to track the trend in cleanliness over time. The three major areas of further research below describe future endeavors that the Controller’s Office will facilitate in partnership with Public Works stakeholders:

     

    1. Refine Standards & Sampling Methodology

    • In collaboration with SF Public Works stakeholders, the Controller’s Office will refine survey standard feature definitions and sampling methodology.

    2. Performance Standard Process

    • The Controller’s Office will use these pilot-year findings as a baseline to inform a future performance standard setting process with relevant stakeholders, including the SF Sanitation and Streets Commission.

    3. Working Paper Series & Qualitative Research

    • The findings from the CY22 survey provide a rich source of data for several potential areas of research. The Controller’s Office plans to report on additional special topics that build on the findings in this report and support SF Public Works decision making.

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    Who is responsible?

    Generally, San Francisco Public Works (SFDPW) and other City agencies maintain public streets and City property on or along the sidewalk. Private property owners are responsible for removing graffiti from their buildings and keeping sidewalks and curbs in front of their property clean and maintained. Local, state, and federal agencies, as well as private utilities, are responsible for other features like power lines, highways, regional transit shelters, and schools. In some areas, property owners and merchants form community benefits districts to fund sidewalk maintenance and cleaning operations.


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    Find out more

    Visit the Streets and Sidewalks Program homepage to see information on past years.

    View the full dataset here.

     

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    Departments