As Local Economy Improves, Paso Robles Brings Back Street Sweepers

Paso_RoblesThis August, the City Council of Paso Robles, California, opted to authorize a one-year contract for $63,250 that partially restores street-sweeping services throughout the city. Though to many, this might seem like a typical city service not worthy of mention, for Paso Robles, it’s an important indicator of economic recovery.

Back in 2008, street sweepers were cut from the city’s budget in order to help balance the city’s financials during the recession. Street sweepers help to keep city streets clean throughout the week, which in term can help create a more positive image of a city. After the city’s budget started to show signs of a recovery this past year, the City Council decided to try and bring back several of the services they cut, which included street sweeping, maintenance, and police patrols.

So far, the city has hired multiple maintenance workers to replace the city’s library roof, hired two new patrol officers, replaced old fire engines, and more. Street sweeping is now being added to the list of returning services, and many residents. The sweepers will clean downtown streets once monthly, city-owned parking lots once monthly, collector streets once quarterly, and residential streets every other month.

“It’s a very basic service” for now, says Doug Monn, the director of the city’s public works.

“We rely on tourism as a major part of our city revenue to continue improvements,” says resident Christopher Austin, who spends time every Monday picking up curbside litter from around his mortgage business. Austin believes street sweepers are needed primarily in the commercial district.

Some object to the street sweeping not because they think the service is unneeded, but they feel that the city is ignoring more pressing road needs. The city’s roads need extensive maintenance work, and in 2012 voters approved a sales tax increase in order to cover the cost of road repairs.

“I’d like to see a restoration of the streets themselves, as in paving,” said Brent Harrison, a local resident, in an interview with San Luis Bispo. “I think all of us who live here can name 20 streets we’d rather see paved than swept.”