Community Preservation Task Force Takes on Cleaning Up Downtown

South San Francisco, CA    October 23, 2015

The South San Francisco Community Preservation Task Force (CPTF) has completed yet another major clean up in our Downtown area this past Saturday October 17th.

“The cleanup started at 9 am. Alleys and streets cleaned are listed as follows: Third Lane from Cypress to Maple and 4the Lane from Cypress to Spruce. Areas of Grand Avenue planter areas removed weeds, trash and cigarette butts. Third and Forth Lanes removed trash, furniture, weeds, junk and carpets dumped on the lanes. Three City parking lots were also cleaned of trash in the parking areas and weeds in the planter areas. This time we found a lot of Styrofoam on the streets and in the parking lots.” South San Francisco Safety Inspector Tom Carney reported “Our youngest volunteer was six years old and will receive a certificate service credit for hours of volunteering (school) with Mom and her brother. ”

The Community Preservation Task Force (CPTF) is a group of locals made of up residents, business folks,  and students along with some city staff with the purpose of looking out for, and cleaning up various areas of town that need some special attention.

This past event had 2 staff members from the Water Quality Plant which continue to work to reduce trash that ends up in our Colma Creek. Parking Enforcement was also on hand  to cite and move abandoned cars in the Lanes where large amount of trash had built up under the vehicles. A total of 32 large garbage bags were filled by the group equaling about 5 yards in total which was taken to the SSF Corp yard for disposal.

A very big thanks to the CPTF volunteers who made this possible. Thanks to Chief Kohlmann and Chief Da Silva for allowing & supporting this event to take place.” Carney said.

The group has been a huge success and their past efforts continue to bring benefits to the areas they have worked including Colma Creek, Winston Manor, Francisco Terrace, and other areas. For more information on this group check out the city website HERE.

The public is invited to join in on the monthly meetings which take place the 2nd Wednesday of the month for a working lunch; 11:30am – 1pm. They meet at the MSB, 33 Arroyo Drive, in the Betty Weber Room (glass room next to the atrium) The group runs under the direction of South San Francisco Fire Department and led by Safety Inspector/ K9 Coordinator Search & Rescue TOM CARNEY , who is also a resident of South City.


10.17.2015 Lanes kids n parent clean up

The youngest volunteer was 6 years old, the benefit of teaching our kids young to take care of our City- and our planet!

10.17.2015 Lanes car n debri

Debris collecting alongside abandoned cars in the Lanes

10.17.2015 Lanes weeds

Volunteers worked tirelessness cleaning up the streets of our City

10.17.2015 vehicles debri

Debris piles up alongside cars parked in the Lanes, CPTF volunteers cleaned all of this up!

10.17.2015 Lanes abandon vehicle

Parking Enforcement helped remove abandoned cars that blocked cleaning efforts.

10.17.2015 Parking lot

CPTF Volunteers cleaned up the planter area on Grand Avenue, picking up all the trash and cigarette butts.

10.17.2015 Lanes Penna

CPTF Volunteers cleaned ares in front of business in our Downtown neighborhoods.

10.17.2015 kids clean up

These kids deserve major kudos for their help taking care of our neighborhood. Thanks to their parents for teaching them young!

10.17.2015 Lanes 2

While areas in front of homes and businesses should be cleaned by residents, the extra help from our CPTF Volunteers makes a HUGE difference

10.17.2015 truck with garbage

Volunteers had 32 extra large garbage bags filled with debis, totaling 5 yards of garbage!


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wilfredo valle
8 years ago

I Voted Yes on W – just for the record.

wilfredo valle
8 years ago

What I want to know is who is “Old Town Resident” and why is this resident hiding behind the world wide web? I’m sorry this is 2015 – if you have an ounce of passion behind your voice “Old Town Resident” then reveal yourself. Need less to say I have no qualms revealing myself. I’m a 40 year college grad latino, married with a son. I’m a tax paying – SSF resident – I work in the tech sector, prior to that I was in law enforcement. Who are you “Old Town Resident” lift the veil and expose your self – lean in full public view and support your convictions. If you are unwilling – then your word is meaningless to me.

With that said, I support what my City Manager has done, his progressive vision aligns with what I’d love to see one day for SSF. This town needs to rise above the “Old Town” mentality and become part of the 21st Century The future is my son, and the many kids that are here today. Decisions that are made for the City of South San Francisco, should be in favor of the future generation and not some keyboard warrior, hiding behind a pseudonym.

I hate to say it “Old Town Resident” ..its a whole new world and papa has got a new bag. Deal with it.

Susan Freeman
8 years ago

Why, hello again, “Your neighbor.” I see that you have joined this discussion in an effort to make it about taxes, and that is fine.

My comments on the other hand, were simply and effort to volunteer to help renew the charm and revitalize the vibrancy of beautiful Old Town in South San Francisco, as I have met some warm and wonderful, long-time residents there. They have been delighted that I and others are so engaged. There are also newcomers who are thrilled to breathe new life into Old Town and have invested their time, attention, and money into rehabilitating homes and lawns there. It is a fantastic sense of community and it is spreading like a rainbow over a mountain after a morning shower. We have chutzpah, hope, and courage!

However, if you wish to make this about taxes once again, that’s fine. I am comforted knowing critical thinkers check the facts, make their own decisions, give merit to another’s stand, and vote their values — not their fears. I value police protection and I know the many residents of Old Town do as well. In fact, I had a few residents talk to me personally about their desire for greater police protection and their willingness to pay the small investment of the half-penny for the greater return of showing support to our police who risk their lives daily to protect ours.

Do we not expect police protection? Do we not drive on the paved roads? Do we not flush our toilets? Do we not rely on zoning laws to protect our homestead from industrial sites locating next door? Of course, we do! Why then should we not pay for such services, programs, and protections? To argue against paying for them while using them is hypocrisy.

Measure W affords me the answers to my concerns for a safer South San Francisco: better 9-1-1 emergency response times, greater neighborhood police patrols, crime and gang suppression programs, and programs for seniors and disabled residents, even a better library.

I will ask Mike Futrell to take a look at ESC and all your attempts to communicate via ESC rather than hosting a conversation face-to-face or over the phone. In the case that you did not get his contact information on the many other occasions I have shared, he may be reached at 650-676-0173 (cell) or at his office at City Hall on Grand Avenue, (which is buzzing with business these days) — or, “Your Neighbor,” you may even stop by our home as so many do. We live at 30 Portola Avenue and although it is no palace, it is a place of peace and reason, where all who enter are treated with respect and are expected to do the same. You are most welcome to have a seat at our table.

Again, “Your Neighbor” there is something to be said for hiding behind pseudonyms and avatars and I do think that weakens anyone’s position. If you are genuine and authentic in that which you believe, stand tall and proud and own it. I think disagreement and debate are good things. I think we are well served when different viewpoints are presented and then each side competes vigorously but fairly, honestly, and respectfully to recruit voters to their side. However, I am disturbed by the increase in the demonization that has been presented in this ballot measure campaign. The political debate, particularly among those who hide behind avatars and pseudonyms, has resulted in a few community members who may fall prey to such misleading propaganda.

This City has a City Manager and a Council who care GREATLY about her people and will LISTEN, LEARN, and then and only then TAKE ACTION. It is hardly fair to affix and afford misinformed judgments and blame to these people whilst hiding cowardly.

Since you have made this exchange about Measure W, I now feel compelled to say, VOTE YES ON W for a better South San Francisco!

your neighbor
your neighbor
8 years ago

Perhaps Susan can prevail upon her husband to re-direct staff to keep up and put the streets in Old Town on a schedule for motorized clean up, very easily. All it takes is a no parking sign for a specific day and voila! It is a dual responsibility of both City and residents. If you notice, there is overgrown vegetation, aka weeds that the City should be clearing on a regular basis around the telephone poles.

I notice there is a gray haired gentleman doing the clean-up, apparently not enough younger volunteers. It shouldn’t be the task of the taxpayer, with the size of this small town to maintain all of the City.
We pay enough taxes and the City still has their hand out for more!

wilfredo valle
8 years ago
Reply to  your neighbor

“your neighbor” do you perhaps have a name? perhaps the shadows make you brave…but your message hollow. Much like this “Old Town Resident” person…Go Figure. #ModernDaySouthSanFranciscoisHere

Susan Freeman
Susan Freeman
8 years ago

Dear Sir/Madam:

My comment was simply polite and conversational, informative and open. The post was not at all defensive. I’m not sure where you found that in my comment. I clearly stated that I offered my help long before your post — and even long before the ESC article. No one is defensive at all. I assure you. I expressed that we too have the same issues in our neighborhood and that I am more than willing to pitch in to make things better! I am really excited about all the great things happening in SSF and I’m ready to improve what needs improving — much like these fantastic volunteers!

If you felt anyone was defending the City Manager you haven’t met him yet. He’s quite — actually highly — capable on his own, I assure you of that. 😉

I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood. I look forward to helping out in Old Town — and other neighborhoods as well to ensure a clean, safe community. If you have a message for the CM it’ll not be through me. I was simply saying that we suffer the fate of those who litter too, and it’s shameful.

Old Town Resident
Old Town Resident
8 years ago

Sorry that you took this so personal, as spouse to a City official and never expected such a negative and defensive reply from City representatives. There is no finger pointing. City officials have an obligation, responsibility, and should be accountable for our tax dollars, one being servicing our public roads. I do not understand why comments were taken so personal and we find your reply unnecessary. No reason to get so offended to what reality is in Old Town. Purpose of comment is to make city aware of the problems that have existed for years and problems continue to exist; thus the public comment, with hopes of finally being rectified. There is trash all over the streets and lanes and the fact remains that the lanes are not swept by City Vac as they used to be a while back, even after meetings and meetings for years! By the way, we see the Vac not being operated for extended periods of time at corner of Cypress and Grand.
All that we request is that roads be maintained on a regular basis. Not much to ask. This is not a personal attack, just a request for service and no reason for you or City Manager to have been so offended and would have expected an “open door” policy regarding citizen requests and concerns.

Susan Freeman
8 years ago

Sir or Madam,

I don’t know who you are, but I feel your pain. I live not far from you in a neighborhood that is filled with people who rent but do not own and owners who do not even live here. Few care for their property. Nearly every weekend our City Manager, Mike Futrell (my hubby) and I walk over 17,000 steps along Centennial Path and El Camino picking up trash, reporting litter, returning stolen and abandoned grocery carts, throwing away broken beer bottles, reporting homeless encampments, graffiti, overgrown grasslands, and blight that attracts people of no good intent. Mike personally confronts people with compassion and asks that they do the right thing and return that which does not belong to them. He also reports issues on ENGAGE SSF, and when appropriate, reports code violations to the fire department. Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows this to be true.

Just last Tuesday evening I was at a meeting with a few residents from Old Town and I heard their cries for help. I offered to help them recruit block captains and form a really active and strong HOA. I know how to do this and I am as motivated as anyone to get it done. I have seen my husband — with the help of others like the WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS AND HOA MEMBERS — transform a downtown and a neighborhood before.

I am personally committed and was so long before you wrote this post. I sent information and have volunteered to recruit block captains, create a strategic plan, organize a questionnaire, and follow through with finding out “what is most important to the residents” of Old Town. Once you do a forced ranking of those issues and drill down, you have the makings of a workable plan. The issue that arises again and again whether it be litter, gang crime, blight, etc., becomes the number one issue for that particular year and the HOA focuses on working with the city and others to solve that problem. The next most critical issue becomes the focus for the next year’s HOA leadership and city partnership, etc. and so on. That is how change for the better happens. One step at a time.

I will walk with you (but you’d have to reveal yourself, of course), side by side to find out what keeps people up at night, what worries them most. This is what “community” means. This is how collaboration takes place. This is what is means to create the kind of chaos from which beauty is born. Let me know who you are and I will sign up with others I know in Old Town to create positive change. You know, it’s like birth (or maybe you don’t know) but it’s a beautiful, wonderful, fabulous kind of pain you embrace knowing that the end result is miraculous. We can do this! However, we must commit to solve problems together in a collaborative manner. Palms open, hands out — no finger pointing. Blame solves nothing. As they say, pain is not a choice but suffering is. Let’s make Old Town the best it can be! It has so much charm, so much potential and so very many people — like you — who do care.


Mike Futrell
8 years ago

Hello Old Town Resident. Mike Futrell, your City Manager here. Thank you for caring so much about our City. I agree with you that Old Town is a special place.

Please know that I walk Old Town often, usually every week. I also know several Councilmembers who make a habit of regularly doing the same, all with the shared purpose of finding problems which require attention by the City. Problems large and small have been addressed, but as you know we still have work to do. This past year the City formed a “Clean Team” with members from several City departments and devoted months of effort to cleaning up and repairing that area of Old Town known as Pecks Lot. Now the team is analyzing what area to tackle next. Police are also working hard in Old Town – not all the problems in Old Town center around litter.

Know, too, that I attend every neighborhood meeting of the Historic Old Town Homeowners and Renters Association (HOTHRA), was strongly supportive of HOTHRA coming back to life last year, and support 100% the actions of HOTHRA to improve Old Town. HOTHRA is a group of your neighbors who have banded together to take care of the neighborhood, often in partnership with the City, but often on their own out of a sense of civic pride and duty.

The litter in Old Town is a problem. Rather than throwing rocks at the City for not more quickly picking up people’s litter, join with me to find a way to STOP people from littering in the first place. Recently the City analyzed its maintenance calls, and discovered that OVER FIFTY PERCENT of maintenance calls by Public Works and Parks & Recreation workers were to clean up illegal dumping, paint over graffiti or retrieve abandoned shopping carts – OVER FIFTY PERCENT devoted to cleaning up after people who don’t care about our City! Imagine what our Parks and Public Works people could get accomplished with their time if only people would stop behaving badly.

To Old Town specifically, we know it has the heaviest concentration of illegal dumping of anywhere in the City. We are not talking about dropped coffee cups or cigarette butts, although the City provides trash cans at convenient locations and why people feel they can just drop litter for someone else to clean up is beyond me. No, illegal dumping is wholesale emptying of trash cans and dumping construction debris, mattresses, old appliances, couches, etc., in the back lanes or empty lots of Old Town. Recently people from outside South San Francisco were caught dumping trash in Old Town, and heavily fined. If we catch dumpers, we will prosecute them. Two factors contribute to the large volume of trash dumping – many homes are occupied by more than one family, generating a lot more trash than the typical Scavenger trash can will hold, meaning the excess trash falls to the street; and too often lower income residents cannot afford the monthly Scavenger trash fee, meaning they have no household trash pickup and resort to dumping trash wherever they can. Every home or apartment is required to have trash pickup through Scavenger Company. And note Scavenger provides every home two FREE pickups per year for large items such as couches, appliances or extra large amounts of trash, so there really is no excuse except laziness or someone who just does not care about the neighborhood or the City.

Join me and the City Council in this effort! You can stop by City Hall to visit with me any time – I encourage residents to stop by for coffee, and many do. Or email me at, or call me on my cell phone at 650-676-0173. Together we can clean up our City, and stop the bad behavior which is the root cause of the problem. I welcome your ideas.

In the meantime – please download our new City smartphone app call EngageSSF. It is free, and a very easy way for you to report problems in Old Town directly to the right City department for action. You can take a picture of the problem, such as litter, with your smartphone and once submitted through the app, a work order is automatically generated for a City work crew to address the issue. You can submit anonymously, but if you give us your contact information we will update you on the status of your request so you know it is being worked. Since being introduced six months ago, over 1000 complaints have been turned in by residents and fixed by our City staff.

And in the meantime I will review the daily route of our one litter “vacuum truck” which does patrol downtown every morning to suck up litter from the night before. Although this truck could not address the dumping described above, if we can make better use of the truck as you put forth, then we will.

Thank you again for caring about Old Town. Your passion and pride is plainly evident. I look forward to working with you to improve Old Town, and all of South San Francisco.

Mike Futrell
City Manager

Old Town Resident
Old Town Resident
8 years ago

This is disgusting!! Everyday problem in Old Town. Main reason is that City does not maintain our streets (particularly alleys) free of debris. Street sweepers do not pass by for obvious reasons; however, City Vac should pass by alleys on a weekly basis. An alley is also a public roadway, so why isn’t it maintained? Is Old Town an exception (or viewed differently and apart from rest of City)? Please keep in mind the direction in which winds blow, which complicates the problem with everything blowing downward towards Old Town area, clogging storm drains, attracting rodents and making walking Old Town undesirable and unpleasant. City Vac is always on same corner (Grand & Cypress area) for hours and hours, going back and forth in same small stretch!!! All the lanes between Cypress and Linden, extending from 9th Lane to Village Way and lanes from Grand and Spruce, extending from 6th to Railroad need to be swept on weekly basis. Perhaps some resentment on part of Old Town citizens? I would say yes. We pay our HUGE TAXES for City to maintain Old Town roads as well. It is like a home….no maintenance, major costs afterwards. Also, if City would put effort in weekly clean-ups, citizens would follow on their own to maintain their properties. Most importantly, fulfill obligations of maintaining our public roads, whether they are streets or alleys. No need for all of this garbage on a daily basis. Has City Manager or City officials walked our streets? I don’t think they would allow it or appreciate it if they lived in Old Town, so why should Old Town residents? These events are wonderful, but so unnecessary, if City would maintain roads to begin with. We are no exception to any other part of town. Old Town deserves the respect it has earned. We are the roots of SSF’s history!! Thank you.

8 years ago

There should be a fine for the slobs that create these eye sores and health hazards.