S.F. Bedbugs: So Many Cases, So Few Inspectors

Categories: Health, Housing
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Like Supervisor Jane Kim, we want to know why there are only two health inspectors dedicated to dealing with the city's 560 SROs, home to most of the bedbug cases. To put that into context: that's one inspector for every 10,000 SRO units.

But more than that, we want to know why the Department of Public Health isn't using more of its dedicated dollars to conduct proactive and aggressive bedbug inspections citywide.

In 2008, city supervisors passed the vector control and healthy housing ordinance for this very purpose. It gave health officials the ability to collect fees from hotel and apartment owners which they could turn around and use specifically to ward of health nuisances, namely bedbugs.

So how is that money being used, if not to hire more inspectors?
Well, the answer isn't that clear. Rajiv Bhatia, director of occupational and environmental health with DPH, tells SF Weekly that there is just enough money from the fees to support three senior inspectors and 10 technicians to work on all public health nuisances, which also includes asbestos and lead hazards.

Yet only 50 to 60 percent of the efforts are dedicated toward bedbug inspections in SROs and hotels. Bhatia pointed out that there were 572 bedbug complaints last year at hotels and shelters, and of those, 30 percent resulted in actual violations.

"We believe we have sufficient enforcement staff at present," Bhatia said.

While health officials might feel that they have a handle on the bedbug situation, others clearly disagree.

Chief Housing Inspector Rosemary Bosque said during a Monday afternoon hearing that in her 26 years doing code enforcement in San Francisco, she's never encountered a public safety hazard quite like bedbugs -- especially in SRO hotels.

"I've seen no reason why they only have two inspectors," said Jeff Buckley, who sits on the Bedbug Task Force. "The fact that the Department of Public Health is starving SROs of resources needed needs to be explained.

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Arnoldhilltop
Arnoldhilltop

10 technicians? they stay in the office and do nothing.

Tony King
Tony King

I wish it was that easy. I am doing pest control north in london and if we could get rid of them as easy as you say it would be great. We once treated a clients property with a natural organic product as requested and this was a complete waste of time. The insecticides available at the moment still have trouble in killing bedbugs.

h. brown
h. brown

Calamine lotion and hot water,

Old timers treatment is best. Troudeau devoted a series of cartoons on them (his mom - in the script - was the heroine on how to get rid of em and then he killed her off in the script a couple of months later?) ... fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and now bed bugs. Unlike vampires, they aren't immortal. Just double up on the laundry and dab a bit of calamine for bites. A spray bottle of half water and half rubbing alcohol for the live ones and mostly have patience. As Arnie said in 'Predator', "If if bleeds, we can kill it!".

Thanks to Jane Kim for the hearing.

Go giants!

h.

Arnoldhilltop
Arnoldhilltop

The truth is the Health Department has more than enough money to hire more inspectors, but the truth is they dont want to hire competent inspectors. Instead they hire their own kids as technicians, ie Kyle Chan, father Randall Chan and fire the best inspectorsStephanie Cushing should be ashamed of herself. She was suppose to replace the last unethical  Manager who was selling phony food safety certificates. Guess who is the newest food inspector? Kyle Chan, he doesnt even have the minumum qualifications.http://missionlocal.org/2011/0...

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