Dec 4 2018

OPINION: Piedmont Street Sweeping Is Not Run Professionally


Dear City Administrator, City Council, and Public Works Director,

While street sweeping is conducted by a Public Works Department professional driving a very expensive street sweeping machine, our city’s street sweeping program is run like an amateur volunteer activity.  Effective street sweeping requires that the machine sweeps up fallen leaves in the gutters, otherwise those leaves wash down into our storm drains and clog them.  Yet, cars routinely park on streets scheduled for sweeping, so the machine just sweeps around them, missing most of the gutter leaves.  Why do cars remain on streets during sweeping days?

The answer is because clearing the streets depends upon an intensive and frustrating volunteer effort.  Local residents have to find out and remember when their street is scheduled for sweeping (there is no fixed day or time).  Then, volunteer residents have to tie or tape floppy cardboard “no parking” signs to trees or poles in front of their houses.  Then, they have to call the Public Works Department to report and register that they have mounted the temporary signs.  Oh, and the report must be made four days before the scheduled street sweeping day.  Then, on street sweeping day, the volunteer has to check to see if any cars are parked where the signs were posted, and if so, call the Piedmont Police to report a violation.  Then, this is the frustrating part, they have to wait to see if a cop will come out to ticket the violating parker.  Sometimes a parker has moved his car before a cop comes out.  Often, someone will park in the empty space after the cop has left, causing the volunteer to call the Police Department again to request street sweeping enforcement.

Whew!  It has taken a lot of time just to describe the process.  Most of our neighbors don’t have time to actually go through this process.  My wife, Karen, followed the city protocol – to the letter – because a lot of leaves have been accumulating.  She even raked the leaves away from the gutter into the street to help the machine collect them.  In spite of her efforts, four cars parked on the street, ignoring the signs she posted.  This is not the way to run a professional city service, and, the lack of adequate sweeping costs our city extra expense to clean out clogged storm drains.

The solution is not rocket science; it just requires looking at what most other cities do.

(1)    Establish a regular schedule for sweeping each street.

(2)   Post permanent signs saying “No Parking” on those specific dates and times.

(3)   Deploy police to enforce the regularly scheduled “no parking” rules.

This is how Oakland conducts its street sweeping parking restrictions on Linda, Kingston, and other nearby streets in that city.

My wife and I are not going to continue performing this tedious volunteer work to aid the city’s street sweeping.  Many of our neighbors don’t do so either, because they are not home during sweeping times or because it is too much of a burden.  It is long past time for Piedmont to run its street sweeping operation professionally.

Taxpayers paid a lot of money for the street sweeping machine, and that money is wasted if the machine can’t clean the gutters because cars are parked on sweeping days.


Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

4 Responses to “OPINION: Piedmont Street Sweeping Is Not Run Professionally”

  1. All good points. My only guess as to why Piedmont doesn’t ticket people who don’t move their cars on street sweeping days is that the staff doesn’t want the grief of angry people whose cars were ticketed, who’ll say, “I had no where else to put my car” or similar. Some streets are so short of on street parking that parking wars erupt between neighbors.

  2. Weren’t poles installed the length of Rose for the new permit program? Did you ask the city to put up signs for street sweeping on these poles?

  3. We are one of those families who put out homemade signs saying “please don’t park here” – but we really don’t mind when someone forgets. Sometimes we even sweep the leaves around the cars…but I prefer it to the anxiety created by the threat of a ticket! Please don’t make Street Sweeping days a misery for those of us without garages. Instead of citing citizens when we forget, how about sending an email instead. Perhaps it would be less expensive than setting the police and bureaucracy in motion. Perhaps it could be set up like the alert system?

  4. 100 block of Olive Avenue, West side has no houses and is Piedmont property. West side is filled with casual carpool autos, so street sweeper cannot access. Not professional. Should do study of location/timing for non-business hours sweeping such as is done in “downtown” Piedmont.

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