Tenderloin street-cleaning program adds 'micro neighborhood' focus

The Tenderloin Community Benefit District (TLCBD) is expanding its street cleaning efforts.

Fernando Pujals, the director of communications, told Hoodline that the TLCBD’s Micro Neighborhood Cleaning Program will launch in the Larkin Street Little Saigon area thanks to a grant from the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The program, which will include a dedicated TLCBD "Clean Team" member that interacts with community members every day, is intended to bolster community pride and respect, Pujals said. 

Downtown Streets Team Tenderloin members celebrate the reopening of the Civic Center Playgrounds on February 14, 2018 | Photo: Downtown Streets Team/ Facebook

For starters, the Little Saigon neighborhood can also expect more sidewalk cleaning, pressure washing, graffiti removal, and services for the homeless population. 

Many members of the Clean Team are participants of the Downtown Streets Team program, which offers transitional employment opportunities to homeless residents in the neighborhood. 

Between May 2017 and May 2018, the Clean Team and its Downtown Streets Team partners removed 387,876 pounds of litter and properly discarded of 26,287 needles, Pujals told us. 

The team works to keep the property between “the lease line and the curb line in the 29 blocks of the Tenderloin Community Benefit District” free of trash and other undesirable materials.

The Tenderloin Clean Team and their trucks | Photo: TLCBD

The group partners with the city, especially with the Department of Public Works, and works on a neighborhood-wide scale from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week, Pujals said.

The team is also able to respond to specific issues within 24 hours if a community member calls to report a problem, he added. 

The transitional housing aspect of the program has also been extremely successful, Pujals said. Since May 2017, nine Downtown Streets Team members stationed in the Tenderloin have secured employment, and four have moved into permanent housing, he said. 

TLCBD hopes to expand its more intensive program to five other micro-neighborhoods in the coming months. The agency currently spends about $750,000 per year cleaning sidewalks in the Tenderloin and each new micro-neighborhood team will cost an additional $60,000, Pujals said. 

The funds are used to provide a stipend and benefits for the Clean Team members, along with additional equipment and supplies that are needed for specific programs, he added. 

TLCBD was established in 2005. A 15-year term was adopted with all baseline funding coming through a certain percentage of property taxes in the neighborhood through 2020. 

Image of current TLCBD boundaries. | Photo: TLCBD

The organization’s base budget is about $1 million per year, Pujals said. Currently, there are discounts for non-profit property owners, of which there are many in the neighborhood, he added. 

The organization has to seek renewal by the end of its term and convince the property owners that contribute the largest amount to its budget, to vote back into the CBD, Pujals explained. 

It has started that process a year early, he added. The steering committee has already met, and will meet another six times or so before August, to draft new terms and priorities for the organization including, district boundaries, programs, and budgets.

Anyone interested in participating in the steering committee is encouraged to contact the organization’s new executive director, Simon Bertrang at simon@tlcbd.org or Pujals at fernando@tlcbd.org.

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Tenderloin street cleaning program adds micro neighborhood focus