People are pooping more than ever on the streets of San Francisco

People are pooping more than ever on the streets of San Francisco

San Francisco

Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock

San Francisco's famous "Painted Ladies" homes.


One of America's wealthiest cities has a huge problem with public poop.

Between 2011 and 2018, San Francisco experienced a massive increase in reported incidents of human feces found on public streets.

In 2011, just over 5,500 reports were logged by the San Francisco Department of Public Works; in 2018, the number increased to over 28,000.

Government watchdog Open the Books documented the sharp increase over time in a stunning chart, first spotted by BuzzFeed editor John Paczkowski.


San Francisco human feces chart

Open the Books/City of San Francisco

Notably, this is only a chart of documented reports - the actual amount of feces on San Francisco's streets is likely to be even higher than these statistics suggest.

"I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I've ever seen growing up here," San Francisco mayor London Breed told NBC in a 2018 interview. "That is a huge problem, and we are not just talking about from dogs - we're talking about from humans."

San Francisco has struggled with a feces problem for years. The city even employs a "Poop Patrol" that aims to keep the streets clean, which focuses on the Tenderloin neighborhood.

San Francisco Poop Patrol

Ben Margot/AP

A "Poop Patrol" employee in San Francisco.


But the problem is bigger than just keeping the streets clean - it's a demonstration of the city's struggle to accommodate its homeless population amidst skyrocketing rent prices and a decreasing supply of affordable housing.

A 2017 survey of San Francisco's homeless population counted just shy of 7,500 people living on the street. That population faces limited public resources, and public bathrooms are no exception.

Whether the Poop Patrol is making a difference remains to be seen, but it's evident that the crew is a bandage on a much bigger problem than dirty streets.