Street Cleaning


waiting for the machine

I was asked by both my readers to write about street cleaning.


Mechanical street cleaning  has one main purpose-to raise money through issuing tickets.

It’s a sneaky way to raise taxes and is regressive because a $60 ticket means one thing to an attorney and another to a house cleaner.


Studies have shown that someone with a broom and and a can on wheels is way more effective and is much cheaper!


At the time they started rolling out these machines in my area ( late 70’s), the union workers who hand swept the streets

made a good wage. This kind of bothered some  people who thought that only clean,  educated people deserved a decent life.

This was exploited when when they first started to roll these programs out in the late 70’s. 

These programs were pitched to  cash strapped local  governments by the ” refuse collection” industry   who got a cut.


Buried deep in my local government website is an audit that that my city does every year.

It shows that  all the streets are clean regardless of whether  they have the street cleaning machines.

These machines do not clean the sidewalks, remove weeds growing in the gutters, or deal with ” the fines”

which are the small carbon particles that come off your car.

They just smoosh around an 18 inch path. 10 minutes later the wind blows the leaves back.


During the last 10 years, the rate of  gentrification  in my neighborhood ramped up dramatically. ( see Gentrification Timeline above )

Two of the new folks round here  actually ASKED the city to implement  a street cleaning ( ticketing) program!

Fortunately over 90% percent of my neighbors have some common sense left and signed a petition opposed to

the idea. The city was going to steamroll us anyhow and it took a full court press to fight them off.

So why would someone actually want this?

Well, if you ask this type of person, be prepared to hear the phrase ” services” as in we would like the city to provide more services.

Well, apart from the fact that this in not an actual service, there is the concept of limited resources. If the city is running

over to provide services to whiney privileged folks, guess who is not getting services?

I call these kind of people the  ” tuck in your shirt” people.

Another manifestation  of this mentality would be getting after you for your lawn or not shoveling your snow

or trimming your bushes, etc.

This kind of micromanaging  is an internalizing of the  corporate workplace they inhabit. Where every cubicle

and office parks is manicured and everyone stands up straight.

I think they are afraid that the thin veneer of  civility they have plastered over their  funky neighborhood is going to wear off.


within seconds after the machine passes every parking space is filled

within seconds after the machine passes every parking space is filled


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