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Frustrations Grow As Crews Fall Behind On Clearing Foliage From Sacramento Streets

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As another storm makes its way across Northern California, there's growing concern in Sacramento about leaves still left in city streets and gutters from past storms.

Pile after pile of leaves are leaving many people frustrated.

"It's crazy," Sacramento resident Mel Cornsilk said. "There's just piles everywhere."

The falling foliage happens every year in the city of trees, but this year, crews are taking much longer to scoop up these piles.

"These leaves have been here since October," said bicyclist Jeremiah Rohr.

Rohr has called the city to complain.

"I've reported this a couple of times on 311 and nothing's happened," he said.

He commutes to work by bike and says these piles are so big they block bike lanes, forcing bicyclists to ride out in the street with traffic.

"You're pretty vulnerable on a bicycle," Rohr said. "Any little confrontation with a car is potentially deadly."

City crews began using "the claw" in November 2020 to clear leaf piles from Sacramento streets.

On average, claw crews come every two weeks, but this year, they are way behind.

In response, leaf removal season, which was due to end January 23, is now being extended an extra two weeks.

"I think they should have this claw out here working 24 hours a day, especially during these storms," Cornsilk said. "These storm drains back up and you get flooding, so it's been a mess."

So why is it taking longer to pick up piles of leaves? The city says delays are due to staffing shortages.

Typically, there are eight claw crews working during leaf season. But this year, they only have five, and one has been diverted to clean up homeless encampments.

CBS13 has also learned that some operators were not signing up for overtime shifts due to a labor dispute.

"I think they need to come to an agreement and get this thing handled," Cornsilk said.

Residents are now hoping these piles are picked up before public safety is compromised.

"They need to figure it out. It's unsafe," Cornsilk said.

Those piles are starting to get even bigger now that people are putting out their old Christmas trees, which is allowed in Sacramento.

City officials are asking people to help out by putting leaves in green waste bins that are picked up each week.

Sacramento city residents can get an estimate on when the next leaf pickup will take place by entering their address into the city's collection calendar website.

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