Neighborhood Clean Team Aims To Keep Hayes Valley Tidy

Volunteers came out to clean up the Octavia Blvd. median and set up supports for trees. | Photos courtesy of Hayes Valley Clean Team
By Ayo Suber - Published on June 15, 2017.

After noticing the amount of weeds and litter along the Octavia Boulevard median, one Hayes Valley resident decided to take matters into his own hands.

To combat the issue of trash and litter, Mark Stephenson, a newly-minted resident of the area, started the Hayes Valley Clean Team, a group that meets on Saturday mornings to keep the area tidy.

"I grew up in Anaheim, where Disney is," said Stephenson, "and [Disney is] completely and antiseptically clean. They did studies and found that if it's partially clean versus completely clean, people are less apt to put trash on the ground. Any trash gives people permission to make more trash."

Some of the trash found along Octavia Blvd.

Instead of just complaining about the litter problem, Mark decided to do something. At first, he went out and pulled weeds himself, armed with just a hoe.

"The weeds were up to my chest in some cases," he noted.

Stephenson then printed out 250 fliers asking for volunteers to come out and help, and about 20 volunteers have come to help out, including neighborhood businesses like Boba Guys.

"It takes a lot of hard work, elbow grease, and coming together to keep our neighborhood looking so fresh and so clean," they wrote on Instagram after their  "bobaristas" spent a spring afternoon cleaning. "We couldn't think of a better way to spend our Saturday than getting down and dirty in the weeds!"

Gail Baugh, the president of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) also volunteered. She supported Stephenson in going to the Department of Public Works to get the city to provide volunteers with what they need and to help with disposal.  

"[Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association] initiated the clean-up effort to support Public Works' efforts to restore and maintain this beautiful boulevard, now 10 years old," said Baugh. "Maintenance and plant restoration will be an on-going responsibility, and we are working together, beginning with our neighbors on the Clean Team to keep eyes on the boulevard."

Mark Stephenson (left) poses for the camera after pulling weeds. A city worker (right) helps dispose of waste.

After the clean-up, the plan is to beautify the median and maintain the litter pickup. The team will take a break while Friends of the Urban Forest fixes the irrigation and trims the trees, then they will start up again for the plantings.

Although Stephenson has had a good turnout with the clean-ups, he expects more people to show up once the planting is ready.

"More people are going to volunteer for the plantings than the weedings," he noted.

About 9 hours ago
San Francisco Chinatown

100-Year-Old Far East Cafe in SF's Chinatown is saved

One of the last vestiges of a long-gone era in San Francisco's Chinatown, the worn-in Far East Cafe (631 Grant Ave.), is remaining open after all, following an announcement in December that it might have to close. Read More

About 16 hours ago
San Francisco Marina Presidio Presidio Heights

The Presidio gets a roundabout, and slew of new bike lanes

A bike network improvement project in the Presidio is being completed shockingly on schedule, and features what’s believed to be the city’s first protected bike lane roundabout. Read More

About 17 hours ago
San Francisco Lower Nob Hill Polk Tenderloin

Walgreens to close store at Bush and Larkin, leaving some residents in a lurch

Walgreens posted signs last week at its location on the corner of Bush and Larkin streets announcing it will close permanently at 3 p.m. on March 17, 2021. Read More

Mar 02, 2021
San Francisco Upper Haight

The Booksmith to move closer to first Haight Street home, taking over Bindery space

After several years of planning, legacy bookstore The Booksmith is moving to its third home later this spring. The new location is just down the block on Haight Street in a building the business already leased for an event-focused space called The Bindery. Read More