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Residents in Disbelief as San Francisco Officials Vote to Replace Trash Cans to the Tune of $20,000 a Piece

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Amid the homeless in doorways and needles on the streets, San Francisco has hit on just the thing to make the city’s image shine — pricey trash cans.

The city’s Department of Public Works has three prototypes in mind, and they all need multiple trash cans filled with cash to make them a reality.

The prototypes will cost between $12,000 to $20,000 each, according to KGO-TV. Some varieties will cost most because they need inner bins that are custom-made to the eye-pleasing shapes that will greet passersby as they dump half-filled coffee cups in them.

The city will make 15 of each in a city-wide competition to see which becomes king of the trash heap.

Overall, picking and choosing to get just the right combination of factors that makes a trash can the perfect one for the city by the Bay will cost about $537,000.

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But some folks get their kicks stomping on a dream.


“Twenty thousand dollars a can is ridiculous,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, who went along with the project but said he wants the price lowered.

Public Works acting director Alaric Degrafinried said the cost is so exorbitant because the chic and trendy trash cans will have that rare and precious personal touch.

“They’re going to be made here in San Francisco on a one-by-one basis, so there is a lot of manual labor that goes into that cost,” he said.

The cans will be made of stainless steel and have a handy-dandy sensor measuring how much yuk is in each one “to make sure we are going to send people where the work is needed,” said Degrafinried.

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The city will put the new trash cans through a 60-day test before picking a winner, he said, adding that by the time full-scale production begins, the trash cans that symbolize that San Francisco spirit will cost between $3,000 and $4,000 each.

The city created a website where those who think a trash can is just a trash can are able to learn the finer aspects of municipal trash can design and vote for which eye-popping, snappily-named creation they would most like to see waiting for their banana peels and Egg McMuffin wrappers.

The site notes that the Institute for Creative Integration took the basic concept of a trash can and made it something sublime.

Does a $20,000 trash can sound like a good idea to you?

“San Francisco is a beautiful city and keeping it clean can be a challenge. Finding the right public trash can to serve our needs at a reasonable cost has driven this design process,” said Degrafinried says on the site, which notes the city now has about 3,000 trash cans hither and yon. “All three contending designs meet our requirements conceptually: They are durable, hard to tamper with, easy to service and aesthetically pleasing.”

For those wondering how a trash can is a vital element of urban design, the site explains that the cans will “complement the design of the new JCDecaux public toilets, now in production, the BART canopies on Market Street and the café on Civic Center Plaza.”

The contenders include one variety called Salt & Pepper.

In describing this bold design, the site says that “Salt & Pepper’s unique and elegant profile stands out from afar.”

Then there is Slim Silhouette. In extolling its virtues, the site noted that “Slim Silhouette’s side profile allows more sidewalk space for pedestrians, while still allowing ample room to discard trash and recyclables.”

And there is one for those traditionalists who might think a trash can should look like a trash can.

“Soft Square offers a recognizable trash can silhouette, with a modern aesthetic. Designed as a kit of parts, Soft Square is comprised of four curved panels, an adjustable base and a domed top,” the site said.

The designs await the blessing of the Arts Commission Civic Design Review Committee, which will meet on Sept. 21 to put the trash can redesign in high gear — or send the whole process to the nearest landfill.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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