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Signs and Fines or Brooms and Dustpans?
January 22, 2003

It was only a couple of months ago that the hottest topic in Richmond was not casinos, crime, schools, drug treatment centers, graffiti, image, the camping ordinance or donuts. It was street sweeping. Richmond was divided into two camps: those who wanted their streets (and everyone else's) swept regularly, with full coverage enforced by "signs and fines," and those who wanted none (or less) of it.

There were also shades of difference: those who wanted street sweeping and signs, but not so many and not so large. Some didn't even feel the need for sweeping, either not seeing the need, and/or having it done on a citizen by citizen do-it-yourself basis. Some thought that removing vehicles on street sweeping days was a good idea, but only on a voluntary basis. Were we one city. they asked, or a fragmented collection of self-ruled independent neighborhoods?

Everyone had an opinion - and they were outraged. They came to City Hall by the dozens (maybe hundreds) to protest, to plead, to belittle, to threaten, to rationalize, to complain, to educate, to argue and to persuade. Neighborhoods were even divided internally on the issue.

The City Council acknowledged we had a problem. The public services director said he would fix it. He would look at what other cities were doing successfully. He would study all the alternatives and then, in the New Year, he would present them to the community to find out what would work and what would not. What the people wanted - neighborhood by neighborhood. Public meetings would be held. Solutions would be debated. Votes would be taken. A plan would evolve by consensus. Everything would be wonderful, rational and democratic.

The first public meeting was held January 13, 2003. Three people showed up. What is going on? Is street sweeping just an issue de jour, whose time has come and gone?

If you care, now is the time to come out and let your preferences be known. STREET SWEEPING PROGRAM COMMUNITY MEETINGS The public is invited to attend a series of community meetings to explain the City of Richmondís Street Sweeping Program that will be held on January 27 and February 3, 2003, from 6-8 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting of their choice, and learn about the two street sweeping program options available for all neighborhood council boundaries. For more information, please call (510) 231-3011

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