DowntownDC BID Tackles Leaf and Litter Removal With Clean Sweep Days


December 8, 2017
By Cassia King

The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) recently hosted the first of two all-hands-on-deck “clean sweep” days where all BID ambassadors took to the streets of DowntownDC for a one-day concentrated leaf removal and cleaning effort.

The first “clean sweep” day was held on Nov. 6 when 49 maintenance ambassadors took the streets of DowntownDC, beginning at 4am, to complete a top-to-bottom sweep of the BID’s 138-block area. The first shift of ambassadors (also known as Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance employees or “SAMs”) began the day by working on clearing curbs and side streets before they began to fill with commuters’ parked cars. Armed with vacuums and leaf blowers, ambassadors tackled the removal of autumn leaves.

At 6am, a second team of ambassadors joined the effort by collecting the leaves gathered by the first shift. Shortly after at 7:30am, a special projects team joined to cover specialty areas including Freedom Plaza and attended to seasonal debris that had been caught in street curb corners. In the afternoon through 8pm, a crew worked on the “entertainment district” in Chinatown.

Acting Public Space Operations Director David Pollard has scheduled a second clean sweep for Dec. 21 to tackle the remainder of this season’s leaves. Due to the success of this new effort, Pollard plans to schedule two all-hands days each season.

The DowntownDC SAMs clean and maintain the streets, sidewalks and many parks in DowntownDC 362 days a year in addition to many other duties. They utilize a variety of tools from outdoor brooms and dust pans, to “billy goats” (basically a large outdoor vacuum) and street sweepers. Street sweepers, officially called the All-Terrain Litter Vacuum 4300, are driven by maintenance workers in the morning to more efficiently pick up leaves around fence lines and curbs and cover expansive sidewalk areas.

In the winter, SAMs assist city and federal agencies with clearing snow from curb cuts, crosswalks, bus stops, bike lanes and more. SAMs this year will utilize snow blowers, shovels, ice picks and new John Deere Gators.