Dec 12 2018

Public Works Director Responds to Street Sweeping Concerns

Chester Nakahara, Director of Piedmont Public Works wrote to:

Bruce [Joffe],

On September 6, 2016, the City Council approved a new street sweeping schedule after operating for years under the former schedule. The former schedule was complicated and was loosely based on specific tree leaf drop cycles, impacted streets, and driver efficiency. It was Council’s goal to make the schedule easier to remember and therefore promote more cooperation.

Moving of the cars was still voluntary, but it was our hope that the online neighborhood groups would establish their own regular notifications for each sweeping day in each neighborhood.  I know this voluntary cooperation can be frustrating, but on the whole, it works well for Piedmont as our streets are clean for an urban setting. We know this through our annual reports for the Alameda County Clean Water Program. In addition, this new schedule helps the City achieve approximately 20 – 25% more scheduled sweeping compared to the old schedule. This does not include any “supplemental or emergency sweeping” that usually occurs on the off-weeks and during storms. I’m not sure the system you suggest would significantly impact what our peers already consider a pretty clean city. I agree that it might affect how it looks in front of your house, but we have to look at street sweeping with a bigger lens over the whole city.  Also, remember that you can call Public Works for supplemental sweeping

Creating a system as you suggest would have significant impacts. These include:

  • Increase Police personnel and costs for daily enforcement of parking restrictions, towing, impounding vehicles, and administering enforcement.
  • Increased costs and aesthetic impacts for a massive signage program throughout the City, which is largely residential in character.

Chester Nakahara, Director of Public Works
City of Piedmont
(510) 420-3061


Hi Chester [Nakahara],

     Thanks for your responsive reply.

     I am glad to know that Piedmont now has a standard, regular street sweeping schedule.  I didn’t know what the schedule was for Rose Avenue this year.  How will the City notify us about the schedule when next year’s sweeping season starts?

     I am also glad to know that the volunteer notification process – neighbors posting signs four days in advance, calling the Public Works office, and calling the Police Dept when cars have parked in violation – works in some neighborhoods.  It does not work in the Lower Piedmont neighborhoods.

     You sited increased cost for not having a professional procedure of permanently posted signs (“no parking during these street sweeping days”), but what about the cost of the expensive machine NOT sweeping curbs because cars are parked on sweeping days?  As I said in my previous letter, 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.  And what about the cost of having to clean out storm drains because they are filled with unswept leaves?

     I suspect those costs would be reduced if the City conducted street sweeping more professionally, without depending on volunteers to keep cars off the street on sweeping days.  The benefits of cleaner leaf removal could be greater than the cost of posting signs (a on-time expense) and the cost of increased enforcement (paid for substantially by the fines imposed on violators).

Please reconsider your response of continuing to conduct street sweeping as a volunteer-assisted operation.


Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

7 Responses to “Public Works Director Responds to Street Sweeping Concerns”

  1. Staff seems to suggest a city-wide program would be needed but is that true? Of all city streets, Rose Avenue probably has the greatest density of houses to mature street trees and certainly has the greatest impact of residential and commercial parking from Oakland than any other street in piedmont. That’s going to create parking and leaf problems unique to this street. Given that parking poles are now in, dedicate specific days for sweeping and put up some signs. The city does not need to implement a city-wide program to address this unique problem.

  2. I think the current street sweeping program is fine and would be opposed to signs all over town and parking enforcement and ticketing/towing.

  3. Agreed – we don’t need a city-wide fix here. But putting up signs on Rose Avenue seems simple given that the poles are in. And no penalties to start. Just a dedicated day of the month.

  4. There are many higher priority crime problems than street sweeping enforcement for our limited Police resources.

  5. Except for Singapore, has anyone been in a city with cleaner streets? The sweeper crews, especially a recently retired staff member, make extraordinary efforts, especially after storms, to clear the gutters and remove the leaves. Piedmont is a tiny city. If a gutter remains blocked, step outside, take a rake, and eliminate the problem. Or call Public Works. They will come.

  6. To be clear, Rose Avenue residents were voluntarily making the effort to post signs to keep the streets clear so city street sweepers could do their job. As Bruce Joffe describes, that took some effort and was frustrating. Unlike most Piedmont streets, Rose fills up with day-time parking so the routine street sweeping is probably more in-effective than other streets in town. A dedicated day of the week might help inform non- residents not to park.

    I agree with Rick – city-wide enforcement of street sweeping is a waste of resources, but simple permanent signage on Rose would not take much. And agree with Aaron – keep it simple. Call Public Works to come clear the gutters. I’ve only seen them clearing city drains.

  7. Ok, admit I’m clueless. I never have any idea when the streets will be cleaned unless I’m outside when sweeper approaches. I live on Mountain Avenue and I appreciate our clean streets. I have never seen or received a schedule except in the newspaper. Isn’t there a simple electronic way to let the community know once a month when streets are going to be swept? We might then be able to note in our calendars and attempt to clear the street. Good grief, if this is already being done I’ve missed it. Thanks.

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