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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Supervisor Jane Kim Pushes Legislation to Help Cure the City's Bedbug Problem

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 12:13 PM

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San Francisco renters are gathering outside City Hall right now to talk about, of all things, bugs. Specifically, they are out there (incidentally, enjoying the warm weather) to show city supervisors how disgusted they are with bedbugs in San Francisco.

Those renters have garnered much sympathy from Supervisors Jane Kim and David Campos, as well as Health Director Barbara Garcia, who are hoping to urge fellow officials to do something about this growing critter crisis.

This afternoon Kim plans to introduce a measure that will strengthen current Health Department regulations by implementing a curriculum to educate property owners and managers, force slumlords into action, and improve reporting and tracking of infestations. 

"I consistently heard horror stories from constituents district-wide about the physical health problems and emotional stress posed by bedbug infestations," Kim said in a statement. "The epidemic is clearly more widespread than the numbers we see reported to the city every year."

Bedbugs aren't unique to San Francisco, but they do seem to thrive here, thanks to the cramped quarters many San Franciscans live in these days. In particular, bedbugs are infesting SROs throughout the city; If one unit has a critter problem, pretty soon the whole building will be in infested, according to Sara Shortt, spokeswoman for the Housing Rights Committee.

"It's still considered an emerging issue," Shortt said. "It's just as much uneducated owners who are trying to fix the problem on a shoestring as much as negligent owners."

Part of the proposed legislation will include "Integrated Pest Management," which allows the use of new eradication methods such as bug-sniffing dogs and heat treatment. Simply fogging and bombing the building won't do any good, Shortt explained.

Inner Richmond renter Joan Teter, who is attending the press conference today, says her landlord refused to pay for a proper exterminator, despite the building's history of "infestations." The cancer-surviving senior citizen says she was forced to shell out $3,000 to solve the bedbug problem herself.

"I suffered both physically and emotionally for six straight months", Teeter said. "This law will make sure others don't have to go through what I did just to have a clean, safe place to live."

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