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Sacramento ranked the second dirtiest city in America, ahead of cities like LA and Boston

Is Sacramento one of the “dirtiest” cities in America?
Is Sacramento one of the “dirtiest” cities in America? 02:39

SACRAMENTO – The state capital of California is known by many references, such as the City of Trees or the Farm-to-Fork Capital. But a dirty city?

According to a recent online list, Sacramento is the second dirtiest city in America -- trailing behind Baltimore, which holds the number one spot.

Sacramento's ranking is higher than Los Angeles, Boston, and Dallas.

"Realistically, I don't think it's that dirty," said resident Noe Lopez. "I just think it's the homeless problem."

The authors say they scrutinized millions of 311 complaint calls to cities related to sanitation over a year-long period.

The list defined sanitation as being garbage, waste, or recycling. Then, the analysts added up the complaints per 100,000 population — both on a city level and on a zip code level.

In Sacramento's case, the list reported the city received more than 34,000 complaints.

"I would just disagree," Ralphie Rocha said.  "I mean, I don't know where that came from, but it's got to be subjective."

On defense, the City of Sacramento is also questioning the methodology.

"I did reach out to that site to ask about that," said Jesa David, a media and communications specialist for the city's recycling and solid waste division. "Just to let them know, there's a context for this and we weren't consulted at all on how to analyze that data."

The division told CBS13 not once did the authors reach out for information or context.

"It didn't look like they had done any sort of methodology that would give a true accurate picture of Sacramento," David said.

The city refers to 311 as a customer service system. 

If residents see illegal dumping, or need help with city services or bin maintenance, they can call 311.

It is also the same number people use for storm cleanup as the city saw record requests following back-to-back winter storms.

CBS13 asked the city, what's the most common call from residents?

A sample study from a year-long period shows more than 50 percent of calls concern routine services.

"I know that they posted their methodology and how they got to those numbers, but it still leaves a lot of questions for what they filtered out," David said.

The question: is Sacramento a dirty city or is this a case of data with no context?

CBS13 did reach out to the organization behind the published list but did not receive a response.  

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