Long Beach likely to hold off developing street sweeping alert system until after pandemic

Long Beach has been looking into ways to develop an early warning system to alert residents when street sweepers are coming down their blocks, but after some research into the topic, city staffers are recommending officials hit the pause button on it.

In October 2019, the City Council directed the Department of Public Works to research the feasibility of creating an alert system, but nothing has been finalized yet because of the technical and budgetary costs to develop it, Public Works spokeswoman Jennifer Carey said.

The department now estimates it would cost $30,000 to study the next step toward an internet-based app to track street sweepers. But the city’s budgetary constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic have left the project up in the air.

Public Works officials wrote a memo this week making a recommendation to the council to hold off on the study until “after the pandemic.” The City Council could decide what the next steps would be at a later date.

Taking the next step in developing the alert system would cost $30,000 because it would take a lot of tech know-how, such as mapping tools to track the sweepers notification systems to send the alerts out, according to the Public Works Department. It would require the help of a third-party consultant to further develop the technology side of the alert system, Carey said.

Public Works officials looked at various ways to implement the system—from live-tracking street sweepers on a smartphone screen like ride-sharing apps to mass text messages reminding residents when street sweeping will start. During their early research, Public Works employees looked at other cities that have their own notification systems in place for street sweeping days.

In San Francisco, an app called Park Smart allows users to drop a pin where their cars are parked, which will then trigger an alert when the street sweeper is nearby. In Berkeley, a text goes out to residents at 7 p.m. the night before to alert them that sweepers will pass by in the morning.

With people working and attending school from home during the pandemic, this system could help people avoid street sweeping tickets. In the meantime, residents who feel like they were unfairly given a street sweeping citation can contest it.

“We encourage them to contest the citation,” Carey said.

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