As the new sidewalks appeared on Burlingame Avenue, so did the complaints about the spills and stains. The city has promised a more aggressive steam-cleaning schedule. I’m afraid that unless there is steam cleaning each day, the spills will appear quicker than the steam cleaner can clean.
Here are three ways we can get ahead of the spills and stains. Not surprisingly, some of the ways I am about to suggest are somewhat untraditional, but sometimes you have to think outside the box to accomplish the goal.
Hang on to your hats, here we go.
a.) In Downtown Palo Alto, for example, there is a program called The Downtown Streets Team. The folks on the team appear everyday and work in shifts all day to pick up trash, etc. These folks are down on their luck and work in exchange for room and board vouchers. They wear uniforms and even at as downtown ambassadors in a fashion, answering questions of visitor’s etc. They keep the downtown cleaner than it would be without their help. Funded through grants, contributions from the BID and the city. Downtown Streets is a non-profit 501 c 3 organization and is proved a successful model that pother cities are following. Perhaps Burlingame could be one. www.streetsteam.org
b.) The San Mateo County Sherriff’s Work Furlough Program. This is another program available to SM County cities. It is largely free of charge to the cities and brings folks who have some community service indebtedness because of troubles with the law like DUI, non-payment of alimony, etc. They are certainly not hardened criminals and all participants have to be recommended for the program through the courts. The only obligation from the city is to have a city employee supervise and the participants cannot use power tools. I am not sure if a power washer would fall into the exempt tools category or not but at the very least these folks could help make sure the downtown is tidy on a daily basis. As I understand it, they would work in the early morning hours and be gone before the shops and restaurants open. Most folks would never even know they had been there. Other cities take advantage of this opportunity and I believe the city of Burlingame has in the past used this program to help clean up our creek sides.
c.) Many folks in Burlingame like to work out. They even join clubs and pay for the privilege to do so. Why not grab a broom or a mop and push it from one end of the avenue to the other? I can assure you the calories will burn and you will get your daily dose of exercise--all while helping the community. How about we create a daily competition? Participants could earn points for downtown discounts. Corporations could assemble teams. Once again, this program could be free of charges to the city. In fact, the city or the downtown association could charge a small fee to participate in the activity and actually make some money. Now there’s a novel concept. How ‘bout the city council form the first team? Why get on an exer-cycle and peddle to nowhere when you could tone up and tune up downtown?
There ya go, three low or no cost ways to keep downtown looking spiffy.