Resources for keeping the neighborhood clean and safe

This list focuses on services and tactics we have some experience and success with. It also includes some promising options we've learned about recently.


911 handles police, fire and medical emergencies only.

SF 311

This city program routes requests for service to the appropriate agency (the Dept. of Public Works, the Recreation & Parks Dept, etc.). Some common issues that SF 311 can handle are
  • Dumped trash, furniture, hazardous waste, etc. The Dept. of Public Works or Recology will come out in no more than a day or two.
  • Overflowing trash receptacles
  • Graffiti. Except in parks, the Dept. of Public Works will send a notice to the property owner to clean up the graffiti. If they do not do so within a month, DPW will paint over the graffiti. In parks, the Rec & Parks Dept.'s crack graffiti removal team will clean up or paint over the graffiti, usually within a day or two.
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Broken crossing signals, traffic lights or streetlights, blocked drains, water leaks, sidewalk defects, potholes and pretty much any malfunction on public property
  • Refer homeless persons who are willing to accept help to the Homeless Outreach Team

The SF 311 web site has a full list of what they handle. They do not handle crimes, fires or medical emergencies; report those directly to the appropriate city agency or use 911.

You can reach SF 311 in several ways:
  • Dial 311 on your phone.
  • Tweet to @sf311. This method is very fast and simple and just as effective as other methods, as long as you don't care about keeping records (although the 311 center does tweet back case IDs).
  • Use the SF 311 mobile app on your smartphone. This method is best if you're keeping records of your reports, e.g. when you're reporting a chronic problem which the city is not dealing with. However, at the moment, the Android app is bad at recording locations so is not always usable at all.

SF Police Department

For emergencies such as serious crimes in progress, call 911.

For non-emergencies, such as crimes that have already occurred, quality of life issues such as illegal camping, and requests for increased police presence, call 415-555-0123. Be patient; the police have a lot to do, and more serious issues will often take precedence. It sometimes helps to call again if there has been no response after a few hours.

When you report or are in any way involved in a crime in our neighborhood, be sure that a police report is filed. Get the report number. When you report any issue in our neighborhood to the police by phone, get the call (CAD, "computer-assisted dispatch") number. Add the incident, with report and/or call number, to our spreadsheet. Documenting each incident makes it more likely that police will follow up (such as with increased presence) and respond more quickly to subsequent issues, and that those responsible will be prosecuted.

Here is more good advice from the Castro Patrol on reporting issues:

If part of your property is out of the public right of way but accessible from the street, such as an an entryway or passageway between buildings, and you have problems with people loitering, camping, littering, relieving themselves, etc. there, you can get police assistance by going to Mission Station, getting an official No Trespassing sign, indicating on it the hours that you don't want trespassers (probably all day every day), filing a copy at the station (which is why you have to go there to do this), and posting it on your property. Passing police will see and enforce the sign, especially in conjunction with other issues.

Supposedly, if you are temporarily away from your property for a while, you can ask the police to make a "passing call" on your property periodically to quickly check that everything seems to be OK. However, Dave tried this and got puzzlement from the dispatcher.

SF Safe

SF Safe is the police department's partner in training and organizing citizens to improve our personal safety. They offer many helpful services, including:

They sponsor neighborhood watch groups. Fix 26 will be looking into this. If you're interested, say so on the mailing list.

They will make a security assessment of your home and make recommendations for improvement. This service is free to single-family homes. There is a fee for multi-unit buildings.

They train individuals on how to increase their personal safety. It appears that this is normally done as a presentation to a group. We can arrange such a presentation if there is interest.

They run a bicycle registry. Registering your bike makes it more likely that you'll get it back if it's stolen.

The Fix 26 mailing list

If you see suspicious behavior, known problem individuals, or another potentially dangerous situation, report it to our mailing list at, as well as reporting it to any appropriate authorities. (You must join the mailing list before you can send mail to it.) Neighbors will be able to help keep an eye on the situation, and affected property owners may be able to take action where you can't. For example, the administrators of the Salvation Army facilities around 26th & Valencia belong to our mailing list and will respond to reports of issues on their property.