It's Time For
Common Sense on Clean Streets
Clean Streets are more than a point of pride for a city. Clean Streets are a clear and public display of just how well a city is run. After all, if a city can’t keep its streets clean, it shows it can’t take care of the basics.
San Jose used to be one of the cleanest cities in the world — and Matt Mahan is determined it will be again. He will make clean streets one of the core metrics he will measure as mayor — and it will be part of the Accountability Score — and if we can’t keep the streets clean, we should not grant automatic raises to politicians and top bureaucrats.
A clean street can contribute to a stronger city in so many ways — from helping to reduce crime through a process called Environmental Design, to promoting health (the more people walk the healthier they are), to paying dividends like reducing traffic (just moving a fraction of car trips to walking trips by creating cleaner and safer streets helps clean our air and reduce traffic).
City Hall needs to focus on basics — ending street homelessness, safety, lowering housing costs by building housing where it makes sense, supporting small businesses — and clean streets. Matt’s commonsense plan for clean streets focuses on 11 proven steps to beautify our city.
11 Proven Steps To Beautify Our City
Establish a 24-hour blight response team at City Hall. Residents should be able to use the San Jose 311 app to report illegal dumping, blight, and graffiti — and have their requests fulfilled within 24 hours. This must become a budget priority for the City.
Residents should be able to use the San Jose 311 app to report illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, and graffiti — and have their requests fulfilled within 24 hours.
House our unsheltered homeless population. The vast majority of the trash on our streets unfortunately originates from people who live there. The City and County must build significantly more prefabricated modular units, in-patient mental health and drug addiction facilities, and require that this shelter and care is used. Read more on Matt’s homelessness plan here.
As long as encampments exist, manage them better. The City must remove encampments in sensitive public areas like parks and next to schools — and provide proactive trash and dumpster service to other large, persistent encampments. We can end street homelessness — but until we do, we can take common sense steps towards cleaning up our city.
Hold Valley Water, CalTrans, and other local agencies accountable. These agencies are in charge of our freeway on-ramps and creeks — as well as the trash in them. If these agencies can’t clean up trash in a timely manner, the City should do it and send them a bill.
Expand programs that pay homeless people to clean up the city, such as San Jose Bridge. In addition to empowering homeless people to become self-sufficient, programs like these can make a real impact on the condition of our city. In 2021, the Cash for Trash program engaged 294 homeless people in picking up 588,000 pounds of trash.
In 2021, the Cash for Trash program engaged 294 homeless people in picking up 588,000 pounds of trash.
Use data to map trash and grade every street — this has been used in other cities (called CleanStat) and it helps make clean-up faster and more efficient.
Empower neighbors. San Joseans want to have a cleaner city — and want to be part of the solution. Matt pioneered an “adopt a street” program in District 10 which allowed volunteers to sign up to regularly clean up their street, block, or park. This effort should be expanded citywide.
Enforce truck cover laws. Uncovered trucks contribute a significant amount of litter as items fly out onto the streets. We must enforce the laws on the books and initiate a public information campaign on the impacts of uncovered loads.
Enhance code enforcement in commercial districts. Outdoor trash cans and dumpsters often overflow and leave litter on the ground — the City must be proactive in citing establishments which do not properly dispose of garbage.
Streets that have shade trees are more walkable, healthier, even safer.
Deploy cameras and other technology with strict data retention policies – near trash hotspots to better enforce anti-dumping laws. We must get smarter about tackling big problems like trash on our streets.
Focus on the overall condition of the street — including planting more street trees. Streets that have shade trees are more walkable, healthier, even safer. That creates an expectation that we will treat our public spaces with care — creating a virtuous cycle that promotes a stronger city in many ways.