Street Sweeping Causes a Stir With Locals
(Photos by edhat readers)
Santa Barbara residents are upset with the City's decision to continue street sweeping, causing a major dust-up of ash particles from the Thomas Fire and disregarding the Public Health Department's advisory.
On Wednesday, December 13, the City of Santa Barbara sent out a press release stating the residential street sweeping resumed in order to clean up the substantial amount of ash and debris caused by the Thomas Fire.
"As a result of the street sweeping operations, some dust and ash might be blown around the street area. Cleanup is a priority and the street sweepers are necessary to removing the ash and avoiding further accumulation of soot that risks causing heavier pollution problems. The City advises residents to wear masks when outdoors," the press release stated.
However, the Public Health Department has emphatically warned against doing any activities that stir up ash. The Department states ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos, items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or touched with wet skin. Some wet ash can cause chemical burns and inhaled ash may be irritating to the nose, throat and lungs, potentially causing severe health problems.
In a press release from the Public Health Department, it advised "avoid doing activities that stir up ash" and "avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible, avoid sweeping it up dry."
Many edhat readers have been confused, some outraged, as to why the City of Santa Barbara decided to continue with street sweeping while ash is still falling.
On edhat reader who asked to be anonymous wrote, "Why is the City ignoring the direct advisory from Public Health? Everyone is supposed to avoid stirring up the ash and interacting with it, yet the City is moving this harmful and dangerous ash into the air of our communities. How do we get them to stop?"
Edhat reader Jim S. wrote in stating, "Hey street sweeper, stop it! My family would like to walk to our car without being in a cloud of hazardous dust."
On Wednesday evening*, the City of Santa Barbara sent out a tweet stating they will be pausing street sweeping until consultation has occurred with ash experts. Street sweeping parking citations have been suspended as well until Monday, December 18.
[*Editor's Note: A previous version of this article did not include the City's decision to cease street sweeping.]