More than clean - Page 3

Newsom's aggressive "quality of life" push draws a backlash in the Mission District and elsewhere

(Although this project focuses on the same areas in the Mission, the increased street cleaning is a separate proposal.)

The essence of Clean Corridors is to get residents and business owners to feel more responsible for their property, using both education and fines for things such as cracked sidewalks and dirty facades.

The program also pays for 20 neighborhood ambassadors who each patrol designated areas, picking up trash, reporting graffiti and areas needing repair, issuing litter citations, and educating the public. They're essentially litter cops.

"He wanted specific people responsible for areas," Falvey said of the mayor's ambassador program. "He wants that person to own their block."

Yet some residents bristle at Newsom placing such a high priority on litter as the murder rate is spiking, Muni is failing, housing is becoming less affordable, and city hall is mired in dysfunction.

"The war in Iraq. The violence in the streets — that's probably my number one concern. Public schools. Transportation," Noble said when we asked about his quality-of-life concerns.

"Quality of life means being able to meet the basic necessities of your life," Myrna Lim said. The Excelsior resident is so frustrated with the parking situation in her neighborhood she organized a protest Feb. 24 against any new fine increases. "If you're on a very tight budget, $40 for a ticket is a lot. When people talk about San Francisco being a very expensive city, that's part of it. It makes day-to-day living very difficult. Over what? Parking?"

Yet the Mission parking proposal has prompted some community organizing. E-mail sign-up lists were passed around the hearing room, and a healthy chat about the issue now exists at a Yahoo! group. Several residents who aren't currently members of neighborhood organizations told us they're thinking about joining or starting one.

"I was quite amazed to see all the people," Noble said of the first hearing and the conversation it sparked. "Maybe one thing that will come out of this is more neighborhood discussions."

The DPW has also been chastened and scheduled an evening meeting in March. "We've heard overwhelming support that something needs to be done but overwhelming response that it's not mechanical street cleaning," Falvey said.

"The city should really be a conduit for people to organize themselves," she added. "For any kind of long-term, sustained effort, it's got to come from the neighbors." *