Neighborhood disorder takes two forms: physical disorder such as vandalism, disrepair, and filth; and social disorder such as crime, drug use, and public drinking. Disorder, and the fear and stress that often result, can lead to poor health outcomes in communities by creating chronic stress; which can impair immune functioning and increase the risk for chronic diseases.[i] Additionally, the cleanliness of public spaces can have a direct impact on health through increased exposure to communicable and infectious diseases.
The data used here, from the City’s 311 system, measure public reports of neighborhood physical disorder, including dumping, needles, and filth on the sidewalks. However, because the data is self-reported it is not a direct measure of environmental conditions. Issues may go unreported, and in other cases, a single issue may receive many reports by engaged citizens.
This data includes public complaints to the city's 311 system related to street and sidewalk cleanliness. Using the Mayor's Fix It categorization, this includes complaints related to: discarded bulky items, dirty bus shelters, encampments blocking the sidewalk, garbage, graffiti, needles, and human/animal waste. Between 2011 and 2019 the number of street and sidewalk cleaning requests channeled through the 311 system increased by 520% and 419%, in the CMTL area and city overall, respectively. During this period of time, the rate of street and sidewalk cleaning requests in the CMTL area was at least 1.5 times higher than the City overall. Due to the nature of the data, it is difficult to ascertain whether the increase in requests is due to a surge in sidewalk filth or increased use of the 311 system, resulting in duplicate reports.
In 2017, hot spots of request activity were present along Hyde St. between Ellis and Eddy, 6th St., around Minna St. and Natoma St. between 10th and 9th and 8th, along Brady St. between Market and Otis, and near UN Plaza and Hallidie Plaza.
Data was obtained from the City’s 311 system and is available on DataSF: https://data.sfgov.org/City-Infrastructure/Case-Data-from-San-Francisco-311-SF311-/vw6y-z8j6.
Resident population data was obtained from the 2010 Census.
[i] Ross, C.E., and J. Mirowsky. 2001. Neighborhood Disadvantage, Disorder, and Health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Vol 42 (September): 258-276.