Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2021  
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  Street Sweeping in Richmond
January 31, 2021

Street sweeping is a best practice under the Clean Water Act for reducing pollutants that otherwise would wash into San Francisco Bay. These pollutants include not only just plain old trash but also much that you can’t even see, including microplastics, copper, zinc, mercury, PCBs and, most recently, an additive to the rubber in tires that is killing Coho salmon and may also be harming our local almon and other marine life.

It is a well-accepted fact that an effective street sweeping program requires residents to move their cars on the days streets are swept. Citations are an effective way to motivate people to make the effort to move their cars on street sweeping days. By law, citations can’t be given if signs are not present. Therefore, an effective street sweeping program includes both signs and citations.

For two decades, most Richmond neighborhoods have fully participated in the street sweeping program, including signs and citations, but there have been two holdouts – Richmond Annex (where Councilmembers Martinez and McLaughlin live) and the Panhandle Annex. Because residents in these neighborhoods were not doing a good job of moving their cars on street sweeping days, the Public Works Department wanted to install signs and start citing scofflaws.

Led by Martinez and McLaughlin, the City Council not only put a stop to installing signs in the Annex and Panhandle Annex, they put the whole program on hold city-wide.

This is particularly shocking because McLaughlin and Martinez, as part of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, have been advocating battling pollution and saving the environment as pillar of their political philosophy for years. They fought Point Molate to protect the eelgrass and the butterflies; they fought Campus Bay and argued all the toxics should be trucked away; they want to decommission Chevron.

But when it comes to inconveniencing their neighbors and themselves to simply move their cars once a month to protect the Bay, that’s going too far and too close to home. They had to draw the line somewhere.

To find out more, click on Street Sweeping in Richmond.