A Cleaner Larkin Street, What Would It take?

TLCBD Clean Team pressure wash sidewalks along Larkin Street with one of two TLCBD trucks.

TLCBD Clean Team pressure wash sidewalks along Larkin Street with one of two TLCBD trucks.


The Tenderloin Community Benefit District (CBD) in partnership with the Larkin Street Merchants and Property Owner Association (LSA) will pilot an increased sidewalk-cleaning program along Larkin Street, from McAllister to O’Farrell for 60 days.

If you read the first paragraph and thought to yourself, why Larkin Street? Why not Ellis or Jones or Turk or Hyde? We hear you. There is without a doubt a strong argument to be made for intense cleaning on any street in the neighborhood. And each of those arguments would be fair, valid and worthy.

The project area, which incorporates Little Saigon, represents one of our most culturally rich and commercially viable corridors, bringing many residents and visitors to its affordable restaurants, bars, service and retail establishments. In 2016, LSA surveyed more than 150 area merchants and one of the most pressing concerns were the cleanliness of their sidewalks.

“We asked the merchants and a strong majority say this is something that is needed. The pilot gives us an opportunity to address one of the main concerns affecting the success of our businesses.” Says LSA board President Simon Sin, owner of the Cova Hotel. “This project is an example of what LSA can bring to the table on behalf of area merchants and if it’s successful we’ll look to find a way to continue it.”

By working with LSA, TLCBD was able to secure resources to bring on additional cleaning services so that other blocks will not see any dip in service. This pilot program not only gives us a chance to support a strong collection of businesses important to the Tenderloin, but to test answers to a question we’ve been asking internally for some time, What would it take to make a dramatically needed difference on the cleanliness of our sidewalks?

Is it a matter of harnessing existing community pride and channeling into a neighborhood wide campaign where neighbors and property owners hold one another accountable, taking ownership of the public space on a daily basis and with special events like neighborhood clean ups? How about more trashcans? Would it simply be a matter of increased services by agencies including ours? Perhaps all of the above and more. We’d love to hear what you think. Contact us at 415-292-4812 email us at info@tlcbd.org, or make an appointment to talk with us in person at 512 Ellis Street.

By learning from the pilot, collecting data, and identifying strengths and weaknesses, we aim to develop a model that can be rolled out to other Tenderloin streets that have an active community willing to make the investment of time and money. We know already that there are community members working to keep their sidewalks clean on a daily basis. We can amplify their effort and work collaboratively together to uplift the care and pride that exists.

To begin the Larkin Street Pilot Program will include:

  • Twice a week sidewalk pressure washing
  • Daily sidewalk sweeping
  • Addition of 6 trash receptacles throughout the corridor (there are currently three in the entire area.)
  • Increased focus on Graffiti removal

The goal of this pilot program is to:

  • Drastically improve the cleanliness of the Larkin Street Corridor
  • Assess the pilot program to determine if it would be a viable option to use throughout the Tenderloin
  • Monitor if increased cleaning can improve the number of customers walking to Larkin Street
  • Monitor effectiveness in improving commercial activity
  • Monitor effect on negative activity

Support for this pilot program has been provided by Larkin Street Association, Tenderloin Community Benefit District, Department of Public Works, and JS Sullivan Development.