SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — The mayor of San Francisco says he's hiring 10 workers whose sole responsibility will be to clean up needles littering the streets.
San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell said Monday the team will respond to resident complaints and remove needles and syringes from "hot spots" every day of the week.
"The status quo on our streets today is simply unacceptable and we're not going to stand for it," said Farrell.
Farrell tells the San Francisco Examiner that discarded syringes on the streets are among the top litter complaints in the city with a growing homelessness problem.
"Every month [we] and our partners in the city collect 275,000 syringes," said Joe Hollendoner with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Public Health Director Barbara Garcia said the city will provide $750,000 to the AIDS Foundation to hire the new needle clean up team. The workers are expected to start as early as June.
But business owners say that still won't solve the problem. The mayor's news conference Monday was held in front of Tamara Freedman's business of three years. She says picking up syringes doesn't go far enough.
"They're still not addressing the real issue, which is that people are living on the street, using needles, defecating and urinating everywhere," said Freedman.
Freedman said she called 311 twice Sunday to report human feces in front of her business. No one has come by yet to clean it up.
Two weeks ago, Farrell announced he would veto a $1.1 million proposal to target street cleaning. He says the needle pickup is step one; later this week he'll announce a crackdown on tents and street encampments.
"We have gone in San Francisco from a point of compassion on our streets to the point of enabling street behavior, and from my point of view as mayor that's unacceptable."
"The other part is really important, too," said Freedman. "It's just that that is not going to stop what's really happening in terms of people on the street and how unhealthy and unwell the situation is."
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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