Everyone’s got a camera: San Francisco’s public poop problem

Hannah Fry of the The San Diego Union-Tribune writes that it didn’t take Sean Miller long after moving from Vermont to San Francisco to understand the scope of a stinky problem plaguing the city by the sea: poop on public sidewalks.

Dodging human — and sometimes animal — excrement on walkways became a normal part of the 24-year-old’s life in his South of Market neighborhood.

“Pretty much everyone who lives here is pretty well accustomed to seeing this stuff when you’re walking down the street in every neighborhood,” Miller said. “It’s very frustrating. You should be able to pull out your phone, take a photo and send it to the city to have it cleaned up.”

The idea for Snapcrap was born from this notion.

The free app, which launched last week for iOS users, allows people to take photographs of feces on sidewalks and streets and deliver an alert to the city’s Public Works Department. The app uses cellphone GPS to track the specific location of the mess and creates a ticket so that users can keep tabs on their complaints.

Prepared messages that can be sent to the city along with the photo range from succinct to humorous.

“Help! I can’t hold my breathe much longer,” one note reads.

Similar in name to Snapchat, which allows users to take photos and videos and share them with specific friends, Snapcrap’s display plays off the visuals of the popular social media application. The icon has a yellow background with a white poop emoji.

Snapcrap had been downloaded nearly 1,000 times in less than a week following its launch, Miller said.

‘Poop Patrol’ to deal with San Francisco’s human feces

Melia Robinson of ctpost reports that in San Francisco, people call the city’s telephone hotline about 65 times a day to report piles of human feces on streets and sidewalks.

That adds up to 14,597 calls placed to 311 between January 1 and August 13, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Now, city officials are ramping up their response to San Francisco’s poop problem.

The City of San Francisco is preparing to launch a new effort to clean human waste off its streets. A six-person crew will scour targeted neighborhoods looking for human waste.

Starting next month, a team of five employees from the Department of Public Works will take to the streets of San Francisco’s grittiest neighborhood, the Tenderloin, in a vehicle equipped with a steam cleaner. They will ride around the alleys to clean piles of poop before citizens have a chance to complain about them, the Chronicle reported.

The poop problem has become a key issue for new Mayor London Breed, who grew up in public housing in San Francisco.

“I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here,” Breed told NBC in a recent interview. “That is a huge problem, and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans.”

Sounds like a sit-down job to me.

Gift theft? Use the poop

KRON reports that a San Francisco mail theft victim is fighting back with cat poop after 50 of her packages were stolen in the past three months–and it only got worse around the holidays.

So, she decided to leave a little surprise for the thieves. The story has now gone viral.

The woman in Noe Valley says her whole block has fallen victim to these package thieves, but she decided to take matters into her own hands and teach these criminals a lesson in karma.

“So, I thought, you know, what I’m going to put this really stinky poop into Amazon boxes, and if they steal it, they deserve it! So, I put six of them, and they were all stolen all between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” Mail Theft Victim Cameo Wood said.

Six packages were stolen in less than 24 hours in one instance. Her frustration led to the creative comeback.

‘It’s not for me to make sense of it, it’s the law: SF tries to justify ‘loophole’ allowing restaurants to wipe away old health scores, dangerous violations

Come to Australia, where mandatory display ain’t mandatory.

Bigad Shaban, Liza, Meak, Mark Villarreal of NBC Bay Area report that in the restaurant world, reputation is everything, especially when it comes to health inspection records.

SCC+Restaurant+Website“We have people’s lives in our hands,” said Alexis Solomou, the owner of Seven Hills in San Francisco. “You could get people very, very sick very, very quickly.”

Solomou’s restaurant boasts a near perfect health inspection score – 98 out of a 100.  He says he has worked hard for it and was upset to learn about a loophole that allows restaurant owners in San Francisco to essentially wipe away their old inspection records and health code scores from the city’s website.

“There’s no reason why anybody should hide their health inspection score or wipe it clean unless there’s something they’re trying to hide,” said Solomou.

Websites such as Yelp take restaurant inspection scores from the city’s public database and post them online to give customers easy access to the information.  But those scores can’t get posted if the city erases the information from its online database.

In May, the Investigative Unit discovered that the San Francisco Department of Public Health deletes old health inspection records from its website if a restaurant files a change of ownership with the city. The application process costs restaurants roughly $600 in city fees but offers new owners a clean slate so they are not saddled with the old health inspection scores from the previous restaurant owner.

However, the Investigative Unit revealed that even after a restaurant files an ownership change with the city, the same people can continue to run the restaurant as long as the owners list a new corporation name as part of that application.

Even in situations when new restaurant owners are listed in the application, the Investigative Unit discovered those owners are still allowed to work for the same corporation that owned the restaurant previously. So while a restaurant may have strong ties to its previous ownership, San Francisco still agrees to delete that restaurant’s old inspection records from the city’s online database.

That’s exactly what happened at a dim sum restaurant in the Diamond Heights neighborhood.  All Season Restaurant, which is officially known as Harbor Villa on city documents, had its history of repeated high-risk violations wiped clean online, even though inspectors found dead cockroaches on utensils and plates.

“It’s not for me to make sense of it; it is what the law requires us to do,” said Stephanie Cushing, director of San Francisco’s Department of Environmental Health.

Cushing and her team of 30 inspectors are in charge of permitting the roughly 7,400 restaurants and caterers throughout San Francisco. In May, Cushing told the Investigative Unit that state and local laws require her department to remove a restaurant’s old inspection records from the city’s website once they file a change of ownership application.

State Law on Restaurant Inspections

That’s simply not true, according to the California Department of Public Health. Nowhere in California’s retail food code does it state a local health department must delete a restaurant’s old health records from its website.

“The law doesn’t specify whether a historical record associated with a prior owner of a business goes with a new company or doesn’t go with a new company,” said Pat Kennelly, California’s Department of Public Health Food Safety Manager.  “The law is silent on the issue.”

Kennelly said there is nothing to keep local health departments from shutting down a restaurant for repeated health violations.

“They have the authority under existing law to be able to take action against them, to fine them, penalize them, impound their equipment, impound product, and ultimately suspend or revoke their permits if they can’t comply with the rules,” Kennelly said.

San Francisco’s Department of Public Health stopped including a restaurant’s previous ownership records online about 10 years ago. A spokeswoman for the department said consumers “only wanted to see the most current score.”  She went on to say that posting the information now “would make it very difficult for people to navigate.”

That response frustrates Solomou.

“To say that San Francisco diners, in particular, are not savvy enough to digest that information is incorrect,” Solomou said.  “I don’t know why anyone would want the wool being pulled over their eyes.”

Solomou said the issue is also one of fairness since his own restaurant’s inspection history is posted online, even though his violations were deemed “low-risk,” including a peeling wall.  He wonders why restaurants with far more serious violations are allowed to wipe their records clean, regardless of how dirty those record may have been over the years.

“To think that someone can come in and change their name … and get any blemishes squashed is scary,” Solomou said. “It really is.”

Don’t like your inspection result? Change your restaurant’s ownership

It seems like a lot of work but NBC Bay Area reports there is a loophole in erasing inspection history – good and bad – change the ownership.

But a name change alone doesn’t change how the managers and staff address food safety.

“It’s not for me to make sense of it, it is what the law requires us to do,” said Stephanie Cushing, who heads the city’s restaurant inspection process as the Director of the San Francisco’s Department of Environmental Health.dohevhiomwpyri5adsqz

Cushing’s team of 30 field inspectors make daily checks at restaurants across the city to ensure they comply with health and safety codes, but she acknowledges those inspection reports are promptly removed from the city’s website once a restaurant files paperwork to indicate changes in ownership of the business, even if managers and employees remains largely the same.

Cushing’s team of inspectors are no strangers to a Chinese restaurant at 5238 Diamond Heights Boulevard. Even though the sign on the building says All Season, don’t expect to find that name anywhere on the city’s online database of restaurant inspection reports. A

ccording to city records, the business changed its name to Harbor Villa last year, as well as a change in ownership, which required the city to remove the inspection history for All Season restaurant from the city’s website.

While the restaurant listed new company officers in 2014, the Investigative Unit discovered that ownership was still under the same corporation.

Last year, the restaurant filed another change of ownership, and listed a new corporate name, but the two officers of that corporation stayed the same.

Even after the restaurant name change, Harbor Villa was forced to close on two more times for serious health and safety violations, including a cockroach infestation.

I dunno how many places go through the process and the paperwork of changing company officers and names, but it seems like managing food safety risks is probably easier. And better for business.

I hate tofu: Unsanitary San Francisco tofu company shut down because of pigeons, insects, other bad things

Hate’s a strong word, and I reserve it for the things I truly dislike: tofu fits.

San Francisco’s Fong Kee Tofu makes a rainbow of soy products, ranging from soy drinks and soft tofu all the way to fried tofu balls and firm tofu. But according to the Department of Justice and Food and Drug Administration, there were some extra, rather unsanitary colors in Fong Kee’s said rainbow.

tofuGiven repeated FDA violations in 2014, 2013, 2011 and 2010 (2012 was a great year!), Fong Kee has agreed to shut down their Bayview factory operations indefinitely, or until the facility is deemed acceptable by the FDA, according to Food Quality News.

The full complaint is below, but here are some highlights:

“Defendants failed to take effective measures to exclude pests from the processing areas and protect the food on the premises from being contaminated by pests … There were also approximately 20 insects flying around the firm’s tofu processing area, approximately 25 insects flying outside the cooler door, and pigeons sitting outside on top of plastic-wrapped raw soybean pallets.” (18a)

“…condensation from the ceiling dripped onto the ready-to-eat bulk tofu and the stainless steel packing table, and there was apparent mold near this condensation.” (18d)

“Defendants’ bulk fried tofu balls, which are packaged in unlabeled plastic bags, fail to declare any ingredients” (19d)

Portable poopers to manage San Fran shit

Ariel Schwartz of Co.Exist writes that San Francisco has a poop problem. The city suffers from an excess of excrement on public streets and even in the innards of subway escalators, where it renders them unusable. Part of the issue is that the city has never effectively dealt with its homeless population (there up to 10,000 homeless in the city), and a failure to provide public bathrooms that aren’t eventually shut down because people use them to do drugs.

Tenderloin Pit Stop,Now that’s changing.

This past summer, San Francisco announced the launch of Tenderloin Pit Stop, a series of mobile bathrooms that each comes with a sink, two toilets, a dog waste station, and a needle disposal bin. An attendant stands outside of each bathroom during the day, and bathroomgoers get five minutes to do their business before the attendants come calling. Every evening, the toilets are taken away by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and cleaned.

Each bathroom is placed strategically based on the DPW’s reports of human feces on the street. Those reports tend to be clustered in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, as you can see on this map, called (Human) Wasteland. Created by a web developer named Jennifer Wong, the map uses complaints about feces and urine phoned into DPW in 2013 (over 5,000 in total) to figure out where the poop problem is worst.

Is this mechanically tenderized meat?

I’ve been frustrated with the rate that large cuts of meat thaw at and have used a variety of methods (running under water; microwaving; or, thawing as part of the cook step) to speed it up. I’ve never resorted to beating the meat on the pavement. According to the Daily Mail, that’s what a chef at a San Francisco restaurant decided to do (below, exactly as shown).

Captured on video outside Lucky River, a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco’s Sunnyside neighborhood, the chef appears to lift and slam two slabs of beef up and down onto the ground.

When a concerned inspector from the city’s health department arrived to question the apparently bemused staff, they simply said the man was attempting to tenderize the meat and ‘defrost’ it by beating it off the concrete.

However, when local news made the trip down to examine the exact section of sidewalk they discovered it was covered in gum, cigarette butts and general filth. The owner of the restaurant said that the defrosting incident was an isolated one and that the meat was never used in any meals.

After seeing the shocking video, the San Francisco Public Health Department gave the owners of Lucky River just one month to clean up their act or face closure. If the owners do not get their staff to enroll in an eight-hour Food Manager Class, earn and print food handlers cards and go on remedial food safety courses within one month, the restaurant will be forced to close.

Bad idea to slap your restaurant inspector, or anyone, unless you’re on ice

Lorenzo Logoreci, a prominent San Francisco restaurateur, was cited by San Francisco police last Friday for slapping a city health inspector and faces battery charges.

Logoreci, owner of Allegro Romano, a Russian Hill restaurant popular with city officials, is accused of smacking the environmental health inspector for the best-hockey-fight-everDepartment of Public Health when confronted about a violation at his new restaurant, said Carlos Manfredi, an officer with the San Francisco Police Department. Logorecitook over the former Rue Saint Jacques (1098 Jackson St., at Taylor Street) and is in the process of remodeling and reopening it as an Italian restaurant.

The inspector, whose name has not been released, was en route to a different location, but along the way observed that there was an environmental health violation at the under-construction restaurant. The inspector, according to police, tried to talk to Logoreci about the problem, but the restaurateur got abusive. “The owner then got into a verbal argument, and the inspector cited the owner for the violation,” says Manfredi. “The subject then basically slapped the inspector and the inspector then filed a police report and pressed charges against the owner.”

Police officers were sent to the restaurant, and cited Logoreci for battery. He has been issued a court date, and a judge will hear the court case.

San Francisco student barfing on door may have sickened 300

Cleaning up vomit promptly is crucial to containing the spread of bugs like norovirus as 300 staff and students at a Jesuit high school in San Francisco discovered Wednesday.

The outbreak at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory school, initially believed to have been caused by a virus, sent a handful of the sickened students to hospital emergency rooms for treatment of dehydration, principal Patrick Ruff said.

School spokesman Paul Totah said roughly 300 pupils in all, out of the school’s 1,360-member student body, were believed to have been affected in some way.

Extra maintenance staff were brought in to scour the entire school with a bleach-based solution, and the process will be repeated on Thursday, Ruff said.

The school consulted with San Francisco health inspectors, who visited the school Wednesday and ruled out cafeteria food or waterborne sources for the outbreak, he said. Further testing is needed to determine whether norovirus, a common cause of gastroenteritis, was the culprit.

Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco’s chief medical officer, said the outbreak may have originated from a single infected student who got sick in an often-used doorway.

"A student vomited on central doors, on the rods that open these big doors. Then the bell rang and a lot of students went through that door."

Aragon said the norovirus can survive on surfaces for days and is highly contagious.