by Nick Welsh
The City of Santa Barbara’s street-sweeping program has proven so successful in its four years in operation — scooping up 1.9 million pounds of debris and gunk from city streets and curbs each year — that public works administrators want to expand into the Mesa and the upper Mesa. While generous with their praise, councilmembers urged caution when it came to what Councilmember Grant House termed “street sign pollution.” Some neighborhood activists have resisted the installation of street signs announcing which days street sweeping occurs; police issue $40 tickets for motorists who fail to keep the streets clear on those days. Currently, city police issue about $750,000 worth of such tickets, mostly in high-density neighborhoods with lots of renters. After residents of the more affluent upper Eastside squawked about the signs, City Hall agreed to try a voluntary compliance program, which has proven about 80 percent successful. The parking tickets cover a little more than half of the $1.23 million street-sweeping contract; the rest of the money comes from Measure B, a hotel bed tax.