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.
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, and often in no more than a few hours.
- 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
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. 311 has proven not to be effective in addressing situations related to homeless or apparently homeless persons, so focus on the issue, not the person(s) involved.
You can reach SF 311 in several ways:
- Tweet to @sf311. This is by far the most convenient method, requiring no waiting at all, and it has proven to be very effective. The 311 center will tweet back your case ID in case you need a record of the request.
- Dial 311 on your phone.
- Use the SF 311 mobile app on your smartphone. When last Dave checked, the Android app was bad at recording locations so was 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, 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.
SFPD does not work with homeless or apparently homeless persons unless there has been a crime, so there's no point in bothering them about non-criminal issues related to such persons.
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: http://castropatrol.org/bulletins/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Neighborhood_Safety_170523.pdf
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 Section 26 MPC 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.
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. If you're interested, say so on the mailing list. Kevin Wallace has already organized such a group around 26th & Orange.
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. 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, and that your bike will be recognized as stolen if it's found in the wrong hands.
The Fix 26 mailing list
In the past we encouraged members to report suspicious behavior and known problem individuals to our mailing list so that we could accumulate reports in support of stay-away orders. That didn't work, as the city will do nothing about such behavior or individuals until a crime is committed. Please do report crimes to the mailing list, as well as to SFPD, of course, and be sure to get a copy of the police report for possible use in future nuisance filings. Also, please mail the list about opportunities that you see to make the neighborhood less hospitable to problem individuals.