San Francisco (Calif.). Board of Supervisors.

The municipal employee (Volume v.3 (Jan. - Sept. 1929)) online

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honesty of all of its works and deal-
ings with the public, and its mem-
bers will be survived for all time to
come by numerous monuments to
their devotion to the welfare of our
city expressed in public improve-
ments of the highest type and great-
est community usefulness.




San Francisco's Architectural

By Charles H. Sawyer

Acting City Architect

UNDER the Charter of the City
and County of San Francisco,
the Department of Public Works is
responsible for the erection of all
school buildings, fire houses, hos-
pitals and such other structures as
are not directly under the control
ot the Library Trustees, the Park
Commission, or the Trustees of
the War Memorial, and the Bu-
reau of Architecture is the bureau
of the Department of Public Works
that is responsible for the prepara-
tion of plans, either in the bureau or
in collaboration with architects ap-
pointed for the purpose. The bureau
is also responsible for the supervi-
sion and inspection of the -work as
it progresses. In the files of the bu-
reau are kept the plans and the data
for public buildings erected since

A large part of the work done in
the bureau is of a routine nature —
correspondence, payments and gen-

CITY departments, says Mr.
Sawyer in this article, are
very much like individual own-
ers when they decide to build
new homes. Their wishes too
often outrun their pocketbooks,
and a stem and unbending Fi-
nance Committee says "no" to
a request for an appropriation,
or gives less than is requested,
and the problem is passed on to
the Bureau. It is the age-old
problem of getting all you can
for your money, with always
the hope of getting a little
more. But even such problems
are interesting ; scheming to re-
duce the cost of construction
without sacrificing quality, put-
ting into effect every economy
possible to make the appropria-
tion go farther.

Acting City Architect

eral office work, but every project
undertaken is a new problem in
some respect and requires that every
one concerned must give of his best
to make it a success.

A school building, for example,
would seem to the uninitiated to be
like any other school building, but
it is seldom that any two school
sites resemble one another. The
problem this time may be a senior
high school, next an elementary or
a junior high, so each project is
planned as an individual unit in the
school sj'stem.

The Board of Education through
its advisers analyzes the reports of
its experts and decides on the site,
the size and the requirements for
a new school, embodying its find-
ings in the "program." Upon this
program the plans are built.

As the plans progress, constant

San Francisco Fire Department's Engine House So. 19, a Board of Public H'orks accomplishment



June I

The change in the population of j
certain portions of the City, its in-
crease or change in character ren-
ders some buildings entirely inade-
quate to care for the increase, and
additions are necessary, while others
become obsolete; this is especially
true of school buildings.

A good building that has become
too small, that must be enlarged, is
a problem that very often gives more
trouble than the design of an entirely
new structure. A number of these
problems come to the bureau, entail-
ing much hard work and very little
to show for it, but it helps swell the
total of useful work accomplished,
happy and healthy school children,
comfortable and efficient fire and po-
lice stations, institutions for the care
of the sick and unfortunate that are
second to none.

End Never in Sight

And the end is never in sight ;
there is so much to be done, the
Civic Center to complete, involving
several buildings, new hospital build-
ings, additions to the Laguna Honda
Home, a new jail, two new senior
high schools, junior high schools,
and several elementary schools, a
number of old fire houses to replace,
and additions to old buildings. All
of these are necessary to care for the
ever-increasing demands of a great
and growing cit}'.

May we never be built up, for
when we are it will be a sign that
advancement has ceased.

consultations with the Board of Edu-
cation are necessary so that the
school children of San Francisco are
given every facility for their educa-
tion and for healthful and beautiful

The other departments of the City
proceed along the same lines when a
new building is projected.

Health Buildings

The citizens of San Francisco have
authorized a bond issue for health
buildings. Two of the buildings con-
templated are a cancer institute and
a psychopathic building. These rep-
resent a new and important problem
^new because it has been some time
since the City has constructed a hos-
pital building, and recent work in
other cities must be studied and the
results analyzed — important because
the Board of Health desires that the
new work shall be second to none.

Upon completion of the plans
there is much hard and uninteresting
work in the preparation of specifi-
cations, letting of contracts and
starting construction. The actual
construction work gives the bureau
its greatest responsibility for the
entire inspection and supervision of
construction is in its hands.

To see a beautiful building rise
from an unsightly excavation is an
interesting sight to anyone, but to
the man who has a part in that work

and who has the responsibility of its
construction on his shoulders it is a
great pleasure. Though the work en-
tailed is often monotonous and rou-
tine, it fades into insignificance be-
side the feeling of accomplishment.
City departments are very much
like individual owners when they de-
cide to build new homes. Their
wishes too often outrun their pocket-
books, and a stern and unbending
Finance Committee says "no" to a
request for an appropriation, or gives
less than is requested, and the prob-
lem is passed on to the bureau— the
age-old problem of getting all you '
can for your mone}' with always the
hope of getting a little more. But
even such problems are interesting
— scheming to reduce the cost of
construction without sacrificing
quality, putting into eflFect ' every
economy possible to make the ap-
propriation go farther.

Substantial Construction

At one time all public buildings
were designed in the bureau, and
many beautiful buildings were con-
structed and have served the City
well. Yet so rapid has been the ad-
vance in building construction and
so many the changes in living con-
ditions, education, sanitation, theo-
ries of lighting, heating, ventilating,
etc., that many of them have served
their periods of usefulness.

The beautiful nevi Balboa School novi occupie4 by its full quota of pupils




Bureau of Building Inspection

By John B. Leonard, Superintetident

THE Bureau of Building Inspec-
tion of the City and County of
San Francisco is a department of
the Board of Public Works to which
is assigned the duty of enforcing the
observance of the building laws of
this city. Its duties cover a wide
field of various types of construc-
tion under divers conditions. It
must approve the designs and exer-
cise a general field supervision of all
new construction, repairs and al-
terations; the erection of signs; it
must pass upon new materials of
construction, as well as types of
construction ; it is also assigned the
duty of enforcing the State Housing
Act and the zoning laws of the City
and County of San Francisco. It is
incumbent upon the Bureau to in-
troduce new ordinances when, in its
judgment, such are necessary, and
also to pass upon the report to the
city officials on ordinances that may
be introduced by others.

Advisory Committee

An unusual and especially effi-
cient method of handling the work
of the Bureau has been adopted by
the Board of Public Works in the
appointment of an advisory com-
mittee to cooperate with the super-
intendent of the Bureau. This ad-
visory committee consists of an ar-
chitect nominated by the American
Institute of Architects, an engineer
nominated by the American Society
of Civil Engineers, and a general
contractor nominated by the Build-
ers' Exchange and the General Con-
tractors' Association. The members
of this advisory committee are :
Frederick H. Meyer, architect ; Wal-
ter L. Huber, engineer, and A. H.
Wilhelm, general contractor, all ex-
perienced in and directly connected
with the building industry, who are
giving their services without com-
pensation, solely through their de-
sire to aid in the proper enforce-
ment of the building laws of this
city. Few, if any, outside of this
Bureau can form a proper estimate
of the valuable services rendered by
these gentlemen. They assist the
superintendent with their advice in



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Superintcndenl, Bureau of Building

Inspection, Board of Public If'orks

AN UNUSUAL and espe-
/V daily efficient method of
handling the work of the Bu-
reau of Building Inspection has
been adopted by the Board of
Public Works in the appoint-
ment of an Advisory Commit-
tee to cooperate with the Su-
perintendent of the Bureau,
Mr. Leonard says in this ar-
ticle. The members of the
committee are all experienced
in and directly connected with
the biulding industry. They
give their services wdthout
compensation, solely through
their desire to aid in the proper
enforcement of the building
laws of this city. Few, if any,
outside of this Bureau can
form a proper estimate of the
valuable services rendered by
these gentlemen.

deciding matters that arc not en-
tirely clear in the building code, and
also' in matters that are not defi-
nitely covered by the building law.
Also, any applicant who is not sat-
isfied with the ruling of the super-
intendent of the Bureau is at lib-
erty and expected to appeal from his
decision to the advisory committee,
who will carefully review the mat-
ter and render a decision. The min-

utes of the proceedings of this com-
mittee are a matter of public record,
and are made so to the end that the
Bureau may be free from charges
of favoritism.

For the first time in the history
of San Francisco a sufficient corps
of competent engineers is employed
by this Bureau to check all struc-
tures for which permits are issued.
It is not the general spirit of the
public to evade the law, but incom-
petence creeps into many designs,
which incompetence is largely
shown in details. No member can
carry its load unless it has proper
connections, and in this respect the
checking engineers are rendering a
service that is full value for their

Old Building Law

The present building law of the
City and County of San Francisco
is nearly twenty years old. with the
exception of such amendments as
have been made within that time.
Conditions are so much different in
the present day from those existing
at that time that the laws are in
many respects inadequate, some-
times extravagant, and many times
deficient. In order to rectify this
condition, the Bureau is cooperating
with the statewide movement of
preparing a new standard building
code, which is being carried on un-
der the auspices of the California
Development Association. At least
100 men, from both the northern
and southern portions of the state,
all of whom are leaders in the build-
ing industry, are contributing gratis
their time and effort to this work.
The Development Association is
financing this effort in the amount
of $30,000, which is for the purpose
of paying necessary clerical and edi-
torial expenses.

Working on New Code

When this work is completed
such conditions as are peculiar to
San Francisco will be added to this
code, and then it will be presented
to our officials for adoption. Con-
struction work carried out under
the provisions of this code, which
will be second to none in the United
States, will better fit present-day
operations in that it will standardize
a great deal of the work that is now
sadly in need of such correction. It
will make proper provision for




forces that all of us know may exist,
which are not provided for in our
existing code. It will improve the
present classification of buildings to
the advantage of the public, as is
manifest through some reduction in
insurance rates that has already
transpired through the work of
these committees and which will
likely be further reduced upon its

The Bureau has and is receiving
the most wholesome cooperation
and support from the administra-
tion and its immediate superiors,
the Honorable Board of Public

The Moccasin Creek Power House in Heich Hetchy generates more than

100,000 horsepower — Photo by ChaSee

The Superintendent of Public Buildings

ONE of the outstanding marks of
an able executive is his ability
to carry a multitude of wearisome
details, a large heart and a pleasant
personality all undeuiet for some time a banquet
is suggested, usually by those of the
group who are married and who
want a night out. Thirty or forty
usually attend these affairs and
while the time set for the dinner is
7 o'clock, it is after 8 o'clock before
any food is tasted, although there
are very few tardy. A new toast-
master is selected each time and on
one occasion there were two toast-
masters, George Purser at one end
of the table and Sid Hester at the
other. Sid won when George talked
himself out. Max Bartell was also
the toastmaster once.

Peter Bondoures and George Paul-
son, the genial proprietors of the
Grill, gave several of these banquets,
as weU as Jim Smith, Leo Cunning-
ham and Dick Fitzgerald. A. Mu-
heim f-or three years hand running
has sent us a deer from iMendocino
and venison was the excuse for the
banquet. Last year the friends of
Swine O'Shea in Livermore sent a
deer which was served in the roof
garden of the Whitcomb Hotel by
the fellow Bozos, Ernest Drury and
Art Watson. Nearly always the
German songsters, Meyer, Muheim,
Stern and Stable, assisted by Calla-
ghan and Cunningham, furnish the
music. The gang never tires listen-
ing to Sid's "Look About You, Char-
lie," and other stories. Dolly Yon-


dall and Reg Clifford, builders of
the Duboce Tunnel, usually attend,
along with Bob Plagerman of the
Western Pipe & Steel and a couple
of Scotch friends.

Testimonial banquets have been
tendered Sid Hester, when he was
appointed Secretary to the Board of
Public Works, and to Dick Fitzger-
ald, when he was elected Sheriff.

Doc Cook, chemist for the Board
of Public Works, handles the menu
to guard against toxic foods and he
and Jimmie Hourigan provide the
transportation home when all is over.

Gene Riordan is the treasurer, tak-
ing care of the collection for the fill
and cover.

Trips have been made over week-
ends to the country place of Herman
Rahlman and O. Alonson, at Napa ;
to Healdsburg, as guests of Henry
Doelger, and to Inverness, to T. I.
Butler's place, as guests of Al Smith
of the Mack Truck Company. These
trips were most enjoyable, but it
could never be arranged to make a
second visit to anj' of the places.

Carl Stern and Andy Garbarino
have promised a mess of fish for a
big banquet, but have been a long
time in delivering.

There are no dues or officers in
this Club or whatever you might be
minded to call it. The name was
suggested by Joe Callaghan, the
Brisbane of the crowd, and is per-
haps most expressive of just what
it means — a gang of Bozos bent upon
moving along the path of life with-
out hurting the neighbor and willing
to cheer him in his success.

The recent death of Mike McGov-
ern was a severe loss to the Bozos.
Mike was a regular at the luncheons
and never missed at the banquets.
His knowledge of civic affairs, politi-
cally and otherwise, always com-
manded the attention of the others
and his sense of humor and subtle
ribbing of someone were sources of
much enjoyment whenever he started
to unload.

There hasn't been one of these
banquets for ages. Probably right
after the vacation season is over it
would be a good time to stage one.



Cleaning San Francisco's Streets

By George S. Sullivan


HOW little thought and atten-
tion is given by the average
citizen and official to one of the
most important bureaus in the city
government. The Street Cleaning
Department is the largest bureau in
number of employees necessary to
make San Francisco one of the clean-
est cities in the United States and
this has been attained, and is so rec-
ognized throughout the country, un-
der the able direction of Superin-
tendent Peter J. Owen.

In 1912 our streets were in a most
unsatisfactory and dirty condition.
Mayor Rolph was at that time in-
augurated into office and immedi-
atelj' adopted a policy that the
streets of the city must be clean and
always remain in a condition that
would reflect credit upon San Fran-
cisco. He sought the services of a
man who would be able to reorgan-
ize the Department and carry out
this policy and whose experience
gave assurance of ability to super-
vise men. He selected Peter J. Owen
as Superintendent of this Depart-
ment and the wisdom of this selec-
tion is borne out by the fact that
Owen is Superintendent today and
is giving entire satisfaction to the
Mayor who has always retained his
interest in this Department and its

The Superintendent immediately
and completely reorganized the De-
partment by cutting down all un-
necessary overhead by numerous
methods. He instituted a system
whereby the men reported on the
job in the morning and from the job
in the evening went directly home
instead of reporting at the yard twice
a day, thereby wasting a vast
amount of the City's time as well as
their own and transportation money.
This was called the honor system.
The men have never abused it as it
is amply protected by a supervisory
system carried on by the Depart-
ment. Owen's knowledge of human
nature and ability to handle men
has enabled him to get the best from
them as well as loyalty and good
will. He has helped many a man on
to success following a moment of
faltering. While demanding effi-
ciency at all times he is imbued with
that kindly spirit to his fellow man
which has gained for him and the
Department a degree of loyalty and
efficiency that spells the highest

Superintendent, Bureau of Street
Cleaning, Board of Public IVorks

quality of success for the Depart-

The Department was not recog-
nized as a Department until 1913,
though its duties were of first and
utmost importance to our people.
The present Superintendent placed
the Department definitely on the
map and made it of budget consid-
eration. At that time there were 330
miles of streets and the appropria-
tion was $350,000 a year. The equip-
ment consisted of fifty-seven horse-
drawn vehicles and 164 employees at
$3 per day. Today there are 630-
miles of streets and boulevards. Six-
teen and one-half miles of boulevards
are to be added during the coming
fiscal year. The appropriation for
this year is only $581,000. The ap-
propriation is comparatively less to-
day than in 1913 as laborefs now
I'eceive $6 per day. Employees at
the present time number 272. The
Department is now 75 per cent mo-
torized and it is absolutely essential
that it be entirely motorized in order
that the growing needs of the City
be met. Equipment is badly needed
at this time and has been so needed
for many years past. If the constant
increasing needs of the City are to
be given adequate and the necessary
attention the annual appropriation
for the Department must be substan-
tially increased to permit employ-

ment of more men and purchase of
additional equipment.

In all of the large cities of this
nation street sanitation and cleaning
IS of major importance and is so dealt
with by the various municipalities.
Ample money is given these Depart-
ments for necessary men and equip-
ment. In San Francisco it seems
almost impossible to impress the
citizens and officials with the im-
portance of this Department and its
needs. The Board of Supervisors
should take the Department into
serious consideration and provide a
fair amount of money yearly for its
normal expansion as well as itb
needs to become on a par proportion-
ately with other cities. Superinten-
dent Owen works unceasingly for
ample appropriations and welcomes
the assistance of citizens in this
direction with the Board of Super-
visors as certain districts of our city
must suflfer from lack of proper
service unless the Department has
the men and equipment necessary to
perform the work. There will be no
need for complaints at all when this
condition is attained. However, un-
der the existing able supervision of
this Department, the organization
runs most smoothly, with remark-
able results.

An increasing problem confronts
the Department due to the increas-
ing number of automobiles parked
on the streets day" and night. It is
difficult to ascertain the best time
to perform the work of the Depart-
ment owing to this condition. In
spite of the fact that the ordinances
relative to parking are not enforced
to the greatest degree the best pos-
sible is being done to keep the
streets in good condition.

The International Association of
Street Sanitation Officials hold an-
nual conventions in the principal
cities of the country for the purpose
of exchanging ideas and carrying
back to their cities the best and ever-
advancing methods of street clean-
ing operations. Practically all of the
heads of street cleaning departments
attend these conventions and then
inspect street cleaning activities in
various metropolitan centers, thus
carrying home with them valuable
knowledge to be placed into prac-
tical operation in the home cities.
San Francisco has never as yet sent
(Turn to Page 27)





(Continued from Page 22)

its supervising head to one of these
conventions. It would be of the ut-
most value to our City if such were
done, as he would then be placed in
a much better position to handle
more successfully the many street
cleaning problems including that of
traffic. While the work is proceed-
ing quite satisfactory under diffi-
culty, yet there is room for improve-
ment from the education that could
be derived from attending these con-
ventions occasionally.

One phase of the work which is
interesting is that of the downtown
streets including Market Street are
cleaned and flushed at night. Mer-
chants and pedestrians are greeted
each morning with perfectly clean
sidewalks and streets. However, au-
tomobile parking in violation of or-

dinance interferes with this activity
as well as the daily work.

It may be hard to believe, but alto-
gether true, that there is a spectacu-
lar annual event for the public given
by this Department. It was origi-
nated and is personally supervised
b}- Superintendent Owen at each per-
formance. This is the annual light-
ning clean-up immediately follow-
ing the New Year's Eve celebration.
Tons upon tons of confetti and trash
of all sorts are completely removed
from the streets of the business dis-
tricts in about five hours. This feat
of organization is a marvelous one
and has gained the admiration of
visitors throughout the country who
make a study and take interest in
street cleaning and sanitation. The
men and equipment of the Depart-
ment are assigned their stations at
the yard as a general would place
his units awaiting action. At a given
time this street-cleaning army starts

the grand mop-up and the trucks are
soon running to the dumps. The
giant flushers finish the job so that
by 7 o'clock in the morning Market
Street and its comrades are as clean
as the breakfast table before it is
set. If you have never witnessed this
play, attend in 1930, see the old year
out and the New Year in, as it is well
worth while seeing and will make
)ou acquainted with some of the real
work of your Street Cleaning De-

The Mayor issues an annual proc-
lamation setting aside one week
known as "Clean-up Week." The
various Improvement Clubs and
kindred organizations band together
under the supervision of Superinten-

Online LibrarySan Francisco (Calif.). Board of SupervisorsThe municipal employee (Volume v.3 (Jan. - Sept. 1929)) → online text (page 23 of 84)