Clean Storm Water and


Under Construction .... Full report coming soon and many supporting docs.

Since 1995 the City of Berkeley and parts of North Berkeley have opted out of this critical environmental activity of STREET SWEEPING. In fact, for the last quarter century Berkeley has only swept a portion of our city and continues to exclude the hills and the opted out streets. In the beginning, street sweeping was argued as a way for residents to help protect the Bay. It was also used to justify more revenue in the form of property tax assessments and street sweeping tickets, both needed to pay for this effort. Someone for got to tell Berkeley that the money was to be spent for Street Sweeping and other storm water municipal maintenance activities.

In Berkeley, we sweep at nearly the same level as two decades ago. Other Bay cities like San Francisco have moved forward to institute more sweeping (at least twice monthly) and also to demand that all cars be moved for this activity. Why?… because most of the pollutants, chemicals and particulates reside close to the curb. Sweeping the middle of the rode is much less effective at this task. The city shouldn’t take the middle of the rode either in its failing to do conduct a complete sweep of Berkeley. We need to move all of our cars AND the City of Berkeley must also embrace its responsibility too. Protect the SF Bay? When? Berkeley Citizen

Note: Photos are not part of the original Clean Storm Water and Opt Out of Street Sweeping Report below.

PROGRAM REPORT. City of Berkeley Public Works Department and Public Works Commission January 9, 1995

The City of Berkeley (City) adopted Resolution No. 54,513-N.S. in October 1987 which added regular street sweeping schedule and mandatory parking enforcement to ensure optimal effectiveness in the City's Street Sweeping Program (SSP). The Program was implemented in phases and prior to implementation of the final phase in May 1991, the opt out process was incorporated into the SSP at the direction of the City Council. This process allowed certain blocks to "opt out" of the City's SSP by petition. Residents of these streets objected to the City's SSP because of the difficulties in moving parked cars on street sweeping days.

The City also in 1989 participated in a consortium of 16 other municipal and county agencies within Alameda County to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit which mandated that the City reduce urban runoff pollution to the maximum extent practicable. Street sweeping was identified as one municipal maintenance activity that would help reduce pollution within our municipality by picking up the fine particulates deposited" on the roadway.

Berkeley's 1944 Street SweeperThe SSP was initially developed for the objective of litter and roadside debris removal. Since implementation of the Clean Water Program (CWP) to comply with the federal NPDES permit, the SSP has had another objective which is to reduce urban runoff pollution. In 1994 some preliminary data from County studies indicated that the opt out process might be a deterrent to the federally mandated CWP. Therefore, the City Council in May 1994 placed a moratorium on additional opt out petitions; and directed the City Manager and the Public Works Commission (PWC) to submit a report that "will look at scientific findings related to copper, criteria for including and excluding streets, mechanical means of cleaning, design of streets, an educational program, and the City's ticketing policy".


A review of the SSP was conducted. Generally, the program has attempted to meet the needs of city residents. For example, an expanded Leaf Removal Program was added to' the SSP in August 1991 to address residential streets within heavy leaf fall areas. Streets not included in the SSP due to steep road grades, narrow street widths, and absence of curbs are included to receive leaf removal services.

Although there were some difficulties in coordinating the sweeping and ticketing when the program first began, at the present time, parking enforcement staff try to maintain no more than a block length ahead of the mechanical sweeper to avoid excessive ticketing of vehicles in the event the mechanical sweeper experiences sudden mechanical failures or the sweeper is suddenly rerouted. Parking enforcement staff also allow cars to park on the streets immediately after the sweeper has passed, although the time is still within the no parking time period as noted on the signs. Routes are also scheduled to allow parking on the opposite side of the streets.

The budget for the SSP provides for monthly mechanical sweeping of 300 curb miles of residential streets (including leaf removal operations); and 1,060 curb miles of commercial and industrial area streets. These goals have been exceeded for the last two fiscal years (FY92/93, FY93/94).

A summarized chronology of events and decisions as it affected the SSP was also made. Staff indicate that inclusion of the opt out component of the SSP delayed implementation of the SSP for 28 months. Approximately 6.4% of the city streets included in the SSP have petitioned out of the program.


The City is a co-participant of the ACURCWP and co-permittee of Alameda County's NPDES permit. The objective of the City's permit is to reduce urban runoff pollution to the municipal storm drain system to the maximum extent practicable. The ACURCWP drafted up a Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP) which outlined management practices and control techniques to be implemented over the 5-year permit period for seven Program components. Specific tasks within the first five components are outlined in the SWMP which are to be implemented locally by all municipalities. These components are:

    • 1. Public Information and Participation
    • 2. Municipal Government Activities
    • 3. New Development and Construction Site Controls
    • 4. Illicit Discharge Identification and Elimination
    • 5. Industrial Discharges Identification and Runoff Control
    • 6. Monitoring
    • 7. Storm Water Treatment

Street sweeping is a practice that falls under Component Number 2, Municipal Government Activities. Street surfaces serve as pathways for the transport of many urban runoff pollutants that originate from the street, wash off from adjacent lands, or are deposited from the atmosphere to the storm drain system. The objective in this component is to improve current municipal activities and adopt new activities/procedures to further reduce the amount of pollutants entering the storm drain system.

The most cost effective control strategy is to build on existing programs and activities. The following excerpt is from the SWMP.

"The proposed major tasks related to this municipal government activity build on the existing street sweeping activities of all of the co-applicants. It is proposed that all co-applicants improve their existing programs so that rather than sweeping solely for aesthetic reasons, sweeping is also conducted at strategic times to control urban runoff pollution. This may include implementation of parking restrictions on specific days to maximize sweeping effectiveness. In addition, it is recommended that the co-applicants consider sweeping weekly in all commercial and industrial areas, and that all co-applicants consider improving equipment and methods to make the sweeping program more effective."

Berkeley was rated as performing well in our municipal government activities by the RWQCB in their evaluation of the ACURCWP's FY92-93 annual activities. "The city sweeps a large number of curb miles, and collects a large volume of street waste." In addition, the ACURCWP placed second in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) 1994 National Storm Water Control Program Excellence Award. The award is given annually for demonstrated commitment to protect and improve the quality of the Nation's waters. The ACURCWP placed second place for its innovative and cost-effective achievements in improving storm water quality.


Data pertaining to street sweeping is summarized in this section. A listing of the informationsources used is in the List of Resources in this report. These sources do not directly address the question of "Is street sweeping effective?" Street sweeping is an expensive practice and there are many opinions about the cost effectiveness of street sweeping from a water quality aspect. To address this topic, staff had to glean information from many sources.

Because copper is the metal of concern to the RWQCB, staff calculated the amount of removed copper from our current street sweeping program. The RWQCB has mandated a 20% wasteload allocation of copper into the San Francisco Bay by the year 2001. The reduction goal for Alameda County is 2,700 lb/yr. An estimate was made to determine Berkeley's responsibility of the 2,700 lb/yr copper reduction goal based on Berkeley's cost share percentage (5.82%) of the ACURCWP which is based on population, acreage, and land use. This figure is 157 lb/yr (~2,700 lb/yr x 5.82%). This estimate was compared with the quantities of copper removed from our current street sweeping program.

A similar calculation was made to determine the quantity of removed copper from our storm drain inlet cleaning operations. Storm drain inlet cleaning is another current local operation that is identified within the SWMP as another existing activity that all co-pennittees must implement locally. The City currently cleans all inlets semi-annually. The quantity of removed copper is 0.90 lb/month for an average annual of 10.8 lb.


Alternative 1 is to keep the opt out process with some modifications. The current SSP when evaluated to meet the goals of the CWP had components that could be seen as non-compliance by the USEPA. The modifications proposed for this alternative are: 1) to accept no more opt out requests; 2) to establish consistent "cleanliness" standards for streets that have petitioned out of the SSP; 3) to maintain regular inspections of the streets that have petitioned out of the SSP; and 4) to increase efforts in public education.

The cost associated with Alternative 1 is about $214,000. Implementation will require about 1.5 full time employee (FIE), sign replacement costs at $11,000 a year, and one additional street sweeper ($150,000) as the present sweepers are taxed by current operations. Labor costs for replacing signs is assumed to be handled by existing staff. Increased efforts in public education and information could be handled by current staff involved in the CWP and Clean City Program.

Alternative 2 is to rescind opt out which will ensure complete participation by all city residents. A huge effort in public education and information is anticipated in the startup of this alternative. Other BMPs may include additional sweeping resources, additional sweeper maintenance, emphasis on optimal sweeper operations, additional signage, and increased efforts in the Leaf Removal Program.

The cost estimate for this alternative is $205,000. Implementation will require 1.0 FTE to operate the sweeper, install additional signage, reroute schedules, and perform leaf removal; one additional street sweeper; annual sign replacement costs; and additional signs for the opt out blocks ($9,000). Labor costs for replacing signs is also assumed to be handled by existing staff. The labor costs for installing signs in the opt out blocks is approximately $2,000 which is anticipated only in the first year so this cost is not included for the $205,000 estimate. The increased efforts in public education and information could be handled by current resources involved in the Clean City Program and the CWP.


An evaluation matrix was used to compare and evaluate the alternatives on criteria other than cost. The cost table outlines cost estimates associated for efforts beyond existing resources. However, other criteria dealing with City policy, program fulfillment, regulatory compliance, public acceptability, compatibility with existing programs, economic attraction to commerce, and liveability need to be addressed.

The evaluation of each criterion was done on a positive, negative, or neutral rating. Positive (+) indicated a favorable or least negative impact; negative (-) indicated an unfavorable or most negative impact; and neutral (0) indicated no significant or no effect on the element. The rating was used to evaluate each alternative in relation to the other alternatives and does not denote a meaning in relation to projects in other locales.



The Subcommittee developed and the PWC endorsed the following recommendations to the City Council:

    • 1. Eliminate the opt out process of the Residential Street Sweeping Program (SSP) within the next six months and implement a comprehensive, city-wide street sweeping program to include all publicly maintained streets in Berkeley.
    • 2. Invest in the development of street sweeping machine(s) that will not require moving parked cars, thus eliminating the need for street signs and parking enforcement, as well as the current street sweeper restrictions due to street curvature, crown, and width.
    • 3. In the interim, develop and implement a program that provides education on the need for street sweeping, and if necessary, a block level process to find a mutually agreeable solution in order to bring back the opt out blocks.
    • 4. Direct resources for the staffing and equipment needs associated with Alternative 2 to fully implement the SSP and expanded Leaf Removal Program.
    • 5. Delegate to the PWC for recommendation if the City Council wishes further review on parking enforcement and street signage associated with SSP.
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