safe.jpgAngry About Pesticides? Your Silent Spring Is Soon Over

Green or no, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department will resort to chemical warfare when the situation presents itself. Rec and Park — and much of the rest of the civilized world — uses the Monsanto Company herbicide RoundUp on some of its properties to combat weeds determined to be threats to the general well-being. (The active ingredient in RoundUp appears to be, well, not so friendly to living things including humans). And while Rec and Park is required to alert neighbors to the use of chemicals, said neighbors can’t do much about it other than read the signs and keep their kids and pets away from the toxic zone.

For now.

Enter Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who wants to create a sort of citizen complaint avenue for pesticide-worried San Franciscans. If approved, legislation introduced by Alioto-Pier would allow citizens, once apprised of pending spraying by signage, to call a telephone number and “lodge a complaint, and start an appeal process,” according to Alioto-Pier aide Bill Barnes.

Analogous to the appeal process at the Planning Department, the complaint process would require the Rec and Park Department or the Public Utilities Commission — which recently used RoundUp on the parkland near the Russian Hill Reservoir — to make a case for using the herbicide instead of other, nonchemical weed control methods, such as goats or landscaping.

“Neighbors can see the sign [warning of impending spraying] and say, let’s stop this [spraying] in my neighborhood,” Barnes said. “People can weigh in on it, and the spraying can be suspended.”

This appeals process only concerns chemicals used for “weed abatement.” If chemicals are used for pest abatement — i.e. killing ants or roaches instead of bad grasses — citizens could be SOL.

Alioto-Pier’s legislation hits the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee the next time it meets, which should be Monday, May 10 at 10:30.

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