Open Integrated Pest Management Education Resource

Neighborhood scale rat management: Case studies and considerations 07/11/2019




Mixon:

00:14:19

We also had other sanitation areas around the back side of UN Plaza as well. This dumpster. We have a team at public works called the One Team where they go out and hold people accountable to the public works codes that residents in the city or businesses are supposed to abide by. And one of those, one of those codes is actually how you store your trash and when you're able to put your trash bins out and bring them back in at a certain time of the day. You have a certain amount of hours to do that.

Mixon:

00:15:01

We have 50 UN Plaza here. 50 UN Plaza is actually part of the federal building. We had a rat living in the exposed crack at 50 UN plaza. And then that is the mechanical pump... that's debris in the mechanical pump that was underneath the fountain. Next slide please. This is also in the fountain we had a lot of debris in these areas as well. So, I had our public works Street and Environmental Service team go down inside the pumps, the gates inside the pumps, and clean these areas out.

Mixon:

00:15:46

So, the location had a lot of other issues that were neglected, over time and things that homeless people, continuously damaged in the area. And one was, taking the grates, taking the grates off of some of our drains. So, in this picture you probably can't see it that well, but in the second one, there was, every time we went to the plaza, the water was sitting there and there was constantly fresh rodent feces in the area there. And that's also the same crack, from another angle, at 50 UN Plaza.

Mixon:

00:16:29

And so we went through that whole process trying to do a lot of sanitation patrols, cleaning up the area, citing different entities that we couldn't control. So, after we cited the entities, we did this, we also started excavating the area. I mean, sorry, let me back up a little bit. We removed the (inaudible)we had at the Exploratorium, we removed the platform, which was the heart of the issue. And then we started doing direct burrow abatement with the Giant Gas Destroyer, which is a smoke bomb. So that worked pretty much immediately. I think we did it, probably about, consistently, for about three weeks we did that. And by the time, we finished using the Giant Destroyer, we didn't have any rats in the plaza at that point, but still, that wasn't enough cause we took it to the next step. Which, what we did was we put down a layer of base rock and then we put in this Geo Mesh, it's patented by a company.

Mixon:

00:17:42

It's called the Excluder and it has stainless steel fibers inside of it, so the rats can't penetrate it. So, we put that on top of the base rock. And then...Next slide please. ...We put this decomposed, granted the landscape team actually installed the decomposed granite landscaping on top. We're still actually working on it, but at this point we don't have any rats in those sections of UN Plaza. And the strange thing is, is that if you go down to UN Plaza, the two art exhibits that are west of these two areas where we were having all our rodent issues, they were already done with the decomposed granite before the installation happened. But these two areas for some reason didn't get the decompose granite, first, before they did the installation. So, I think the future for these areas, they're going to do an installation, but I'm going to make sure that whatever the installation is, it doesn't have a bridge. Because that most definitely was the, the heart of the issue.

Question:

00:18:54

Was their baiting going on at the same time?

Mixon:

00:18:58

Baiting?

Question:

00:18:58

Yeah.

Mixon:

00:18:59

No, we didn't use any bait. No. Did Pestec do any baiting in that area?

Agurto:

00:19:05

I think we did one. Only in the sewer system.

Question:

00:19:08

How about BART? And Union?

Mixon:

00:19:13

How about BART and Union?

Nader:

00:19:17

Not that I know of. Like I said in the beginning of this discussion, some entities work good together, some don't. Yeah. Okay. And I just want to clarify our role in this. Okay. In the public areas, DPW has jurisdiction and on private property is DPH. That's why, 10 UN Plaza got referred to me and I addressed that issue. Or, I am still addressing that issue.

Mixon:

00:19:39

So, next slide please. So, this is just the graph of how we installed it, just in case anybody was curious of how we installed it. The soil and then we have the base rock level. That type of Geo Mesh soil was the first time our team ever used it. I think they did a fabulous job with installing that and then putting the decompose ground on top. We're still working on adding more decomposed granite and tamping it down.

Question:

00:20:08

Is that like fabric with steel in it or is it look like mesh?

Man:

00:20:13

Yeah, it looks like mesh. It looks like it's kind of like steel wool fibers. Yeah. Kind of like Brillo.

Question:

00:20:19

You can roll it out like fiberglass?

Man:

00:20:25

Yeah, it comes in a roll.

Speaker 4:

00:20:25

Yeah. You are rolling out like regular fabric.

Question:

00:20:30

How wide? It must be heavy.

Man:

00:20:31

It's not heavy. It was pretty light. It was probably like six feet, eight feet wide. You just roll it out and it comes with tampers.

Question:

00:20:42

And it's stainless steel?

Man:

00:20:45

Stainless steel.

Question:

00:20:46

That's real cheap?

Audience:

00:20:55

[Laughter]

Question:

00:20:56

How long has that been down?

Mixon:

00:20:58

About a month ago. Yeah. Yeah. So, we're still working on the project. It's not a hundred percent complete, but as the project stands now, we don't have any rodents. Even though there's this one rat, that keeps trying to get in.

Audience:

00:21:19

[Laughter]

Mixon:

00:21:19

That keeps coming up from the Bart Station. It's the same rat, right? Are there any questions for me?

Question:

00:21:30

Will that Geo Mesh, will that decompose in time?

Mixon:

00:21:39

No.

Agurto:

00:21:39

And where the DJ was installed before, dig you see digging in it?

Mixon:

00:21:40

No. No digging there.

Agurto:

00:21:43

So even it could be without the Geo cloth, just the DJ tamped down could do it?

Mixon:

00:21:45

Correct. Yeah, but I just wanted it to be triple sure.

Agurto:

00:21:49

Yeah, and you've got a good pilot, right? If you have one with and one without.

Mixon:

00:21:51

Exactly.

Question:

00:21:52

So how big of an area, doesn't have a Geo Mesh?

Mixon:

00:21:56

Oh, I haven't measured it, but it's about two of those. The same areas but just behind it.

New Speaker:

00:22:07

Like about a third of the area? A fourth of the area or something?

Mixon:

00:22:07

Half. Half of the area.

Question:

00:22:12

Oh good. Yeah. You have testified to it.

Mixon:

00:22:14

Yeah, yes we have testified to it. Yes. Anything?

Question:

00:22:16

So you don't plan on planting anything else in there now?

Mixon:

00:22:20

No. No, because there's a lot of homeless, homeless traffic. People would just take the plants and pull them out. There's no point in putting any plants in there. All right. That concludes. . .

Man:

00:22:32

Well, I'm wanted to say, at the beginning of all that, we had that be really cool meeting out in the Plaza with all those--a bunch of departments. It was actually kind of unusual.

Mixon:

00:22:46

We had a Mayor's Office. We had Hunter Point Families. We had Chris. We had Nader, Nader's boss. Larry was there. My boss was there. And then after that meeting, we also had another meeting as well that had some of the same players, but then had, my big boss, the DVO of Public Works was also there because we were getting a lot of complaints about the area. And, you know, like I said before, that's one of the heartbeats of San Francisco. And it was very important for us to get that area under control and for people to actually enjoy it. Because I went down there at 12 o'clock on the afternoon and someone was eating a burrito and the rat was like 10 feet away.

Audience:

00:23:31

[Laughter]

Mixon:

00:23:33

So yeah. So, it was very important for us to get that under control as quick as possible.

Agurto:

00:23:39

Can you talk about what drove the idea of putting the exhibit there? Because there was a point to actually having that, right?

Mixon:

00:23:44

Yes. Right. The point having the exhibit there was, to actually attract--I'm going to say, the "correct" energy in the area instead of having all the drug use that was there. Even though we had some, having Hunter's Point Family there, which is a nonprofit organization and they give people in the community jobs. So, that was also an addition to having the exhibit where we were able to employ people as well. Did that work? Did you see like if you had a change in the area?

Mixon:

00:24:13

Oh yeah, there was a huge change. That's why I'm an advocate of them replacing the art exhibits that were there before with new art exhibits because I think that it was, it was great for the area.

Agurto:

00:24:26

And maybe some that are rodent proof.

Mixon:

00:24:26

Oh, yeah, I think we're going to be involved in the process and whatever they do next.

Nader:

00:24:33

That was brought up because you see this time and time again. Not just with exhibits like this, but with the parklets with the various types of parklets, and the city that showed the rodent harborage. I'm not saying that we shouldn't, have these exhibits, or can't have parklets. You can, if you do it the right way with respect to rodent control. In fact, you can turn the whole thing in to a, I'm not going to say a giant bait box Chris, but at least a means about copying or accessing the area for maintenance.

Mixon:

00:25:07

Yeah. And even how you just recently, sent me an email about the, the Ford bicycle racks. How rats are going under there as well. So, yeah, that's it.

Question:

00:25:22

What species of rat?

Mixon:

00:25:22

Norway. Yeah.

Question:

00:25:27

How can we track this?

Mixon:

00:25:29

How can we track...

Question:

00:25:30

How well it's working?

Mixon:

00:25:32

Oh, how well, what we did was working?

Man:

00:25:34

How will we monitor going forward to see if we're being successful?

Mixon:

00:25:40

Oh, we're out there. We're out there all the time.

Man:

00:25:42

So like whether we see them or not, correct?

Mixon:

00:25:45

Yeah. Visual.

Man:

00:25:46

And complaints probably, right?

Mixon:

00:25:46

Yeah, I think more in visual inspections instead of trying to be more proactive in the plaza instead of waiting for us to get a complaint.

Nader:

00:25:56

I'll be counting burrows. If there are any more burrow.

Mixon:

00:25:59

Great. All right. Any other questions? All right. Thank you.

Audience:

00:26:03

[Applause]

Pruitt:

00:26:05

I'm Matt Pruitt and I'm and IPM Coordinator for Rec and Park. So, I'm going to talk about parks. They're a big harborage source for rodents. Obviously, there is landscape and areas where they can easily burrow. They like to borrow--the Norway rats. The first picture here is Willie "Woo Woo" Wong (Playground) This is an area where our fence meets a private building and we teamed up with Public Health and Public Works to get together and try to figure out solutions. So, they were using this section here, you can see the dirt moved away. There was a bunch of burrows there and Luis helped us, seal that as well. He sealed it with I think concrete, correct?

Agurto:

00:27:25

Yes.

Pruitt:

00:27:25

And, he had treated those, those burrows first. And then, basically what we do is, you know, we're always searching for signs and symptoms of rats. We do it on a monthly basis, we have developed routes. So, we go and visit each location at least once a month. So, we searched for ideal burrowing locations such as planter boxes. You can see there's a burrow right by my foot there, under a shrub. So, we have to look under shrubs, near trash areas, bases of trees. They like to use structures like foundations of buildings to use, so they burrow underneath. We're also looking for droppings. We're also looking for paw prints. We also look for rub marks and other signs as well. If you go the next slide, I'll show you some other burrows examples. So, there's another one there. It's kind of inconspicuous with the boulder and there was some vegetation kind of blocking it. What we also do is when we come to a site, for example, Portsmouth Square. When I first started there was 50 plus burrows in one planter bag. And it's hard to tell what was new, what was old.

Pruitt:

00:28:52

And so we started abating by doing night trapping, heavy night trapping, and we did an experiment with a dry ice and that worked really well but we are shut down as far as using dry ice. But part of it was just crushing the burrows and seeing what came back. And as you can see this last picture here, that's a fresh burrow. The dirt's freshly moved down there, some debris. There's actually chewed up trash giving us evidence that it is a rat burrow. So, we actually have this new machine, it's as a CO machine. It's a gassing machine that we're able to use now and that has really made a difference. We did use the gasser bombs, which worked really well. But this machine is a little bit easier to use and we can get to more places. We can cover more area.

Pruitt:

00:29:47

So, we're monitoring these areas where we do treatments, we're counting burrow, we're crushing burrows. And then we're coming back to see if there's, you know, new evidence. We're also implementing night trapping still.

Question:

00:30:05

With what?

Pruitt:

00:30:05

Night trappings.

Question:

00:30:08

What trap do you use?

Pruitt:

00:30:09

Yes. So, generally we use the Old Victor wooden traps, they work really well; in like an area with 80 to 100 traps, after the park is closed down. So, at night we would come return. Sometimes we get as many as 50 plus rats, sometimes a couple of rats, sometimes none. So, that is a good indication whether you have an issue or not. And even when you're out there, you can see them running around. We did try some experiments. We did an experiment at 24th North. We did some ceiling on one side, with some, stainless steel mesh that stopped them.

Pruitt:

00:30:45

They did try to keep continuing to burrow but it's a really small park and there's buildings next door, so they're drilling through the wood and the fencing and other materials. On the other side. They're still coming through and it's difficult for us to kind of exclude that area. So, we have to continue to do night trapping there. But going forward, we're working with our (inaudible) division as far as when we develop new plans in prevention and figuring out ways where we can exclude, if we do have a planter bed where we can implement these techniques, using the mesh or, making sure that the garbage area's secure, putting in garbage's that are animal proof. Let's see if there's anything else. That's pretty much it. Any questions as far as what our role is?

Question:

00:31:40

Why were you stopped from using CO2?

Pruitt:

00:31:43

It was dry ice. Someone else had--we're not even quite sure, but DPR basically said no more use of dry ice. In fact, Bell Labs has purchased the rights to, or has the rights to that product and they sell it, but it's just not distributed here. So, even though there's a label and it's legal California now, it's just not a thing. You can't actually get it because there's no distributors of dry ice. It's a complicated issue.

Question:

00:32:15

So you can't go buy yourself dry ice and shove it in and seal it?

Pruitt:

00:32:19

So, the way the regulation works is you have to have a label, a legal binding document, an associated label in order to use any sort of pest control in a professional manner. So, because that's not the case, we can't use just--we can't just use whatever products that work. They have to be labeled through the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Man:

00:32:44

It's a maddening bureaucratic problem which we have struggled with for years. So, we had a temporary permission to use dry ice, but we had actually Pestec, right? We had a label so that we could use it legally as what they call an exact product. But I think because, well for reasons that I'm not fully sure about, EPA issued an edict saying you can't do that. And then Bell product came out. But they said it's not available here yet. It's available in few places back east.

Question:

00:33:24

Chris, who is included in the "we" there?

Question:

00:33:24

And that's what I was going to ask. As, in "we" can't use dry ice?

Man:

00:33:26

Anyone who's doing pest-control professionally. So, a private resident can.

Question:

00:33:34

In the state of California?

Man:

00:33:37

Yes.

Man:

00:33:37

Technically a private resident, can't either. It's illegal in the state of California to use any method to kill any animals that isn't approved by DPR.

Man:

00:33:47

So, according to DPR--DPR has not (inaudible) something that would qualify as an exempt product. A private resident could go and use it on their own property, but we can't as professionals.

Man:

00:33:59

But they have to have the exempt legal, you know, so like for ants, right? You want--you go in and you use bleach to kill ants. That is technically a violation of the label and of what is not an approved method.

Man:

00:34:14

Yes.

Man:

00:34:14

Now you can kill all the ants and then come in and wipe everything down with bleach and then your legal, but you just can't pour the bleach on the ants.

Man:

00:34:22

I believe that they gave that opinion based on the fact that it was exempt materials. There was CO2 on a list of materials don't need to be registered aside. So, that was what they told me. That a private resident could use dry ice. Although people do that sort of thing, of course, all the time. So yeah, it's a bureaucratic, it's silly bureaucratic stuff. We're still try to push Bell labs to distribute it here.

Pruitt:

00:34:55

So, currently, our choice, our method is using the CO machine. It's really effective. It's got a place where you can put, it's basically attached to the manifold. You put mineral oil, proprietary and stuff that actually gives off a smoke. So, you can kind of trace where these burrows are coming out. You can seal them up. And after several return visits, the number of burrows go down, activity goes down. The issue is there's always new populations are constantly trying to move in. So, it's a constant, that's where the monitoring is most important because you have to go back and make sure that you're on top of it. There are situations where we can't use that machine where we're up against buildings, where we don't know if they have basements or void spaces. So, we have to be careful when using that--be conscious of that as well.

Question:

00:35:37

Which machine?

Pruitt:

00:35:37

It's called a, Burrow X. Or Burrow RX. And then another name is Gopher X. It is generally used for gopher control. But I think it works better with rats as far as we can tell so far.

Question:

00:35:57

You can use it on vermin on the label?

Pruitt:

00:36:02

So, according to this, it's not--it's a device, so according to this, this is again going back to the directions, you can use it. There's no restrictions as far as it's not--it's not considered pesticides. It's considered a pest control device, which is a different set of rules.

Question:

00:36:20

So, the device even those it is the CO2 that is doing actual?

Pruitt:

00:36:23

That's, the way it is now. It could change, that was, updated I think 2012.

New Speaker:

00:36:39

Let me update with that. Where are you using, what's your tolerance for being around buildings? How far are you using the same as a hundred feet world they used for?

Pruitt:

00:36:56

It depends on if it's occupied or not. If it's a non-occupied building, you know, we'll check, it doesn't give off smoke so we would visually be able to see whether it is entering. So, we're just conscious of that and if we don't know, if we don't have access to the building and then we won't use it near a building. So, at least 50 to 100 feet away.

Question:

00:37:17

What are you doing with the body and the trap?

Pruitt:

00:37:21

When we trap rats?

Man:

00:37:21

Yes.

Pruitt:

00:37:21

We wrap them up, and throw them in the trash, yeah. That's the recommended way to get rid of them.

Question:

00:37:36

And you get overtime for working at night? (Laughter)

Pruitt:

00:37:43

I'm on salary.

Question:

00:37:48

Do you take any of those rat carcasses and do analysis for fleas?

Pruitt:

00:37:53

No. Absolutely not. No. That would be more time consuming to me. I guess we could if we had more personnel to do that, but that's...

Man:

00:38:02

That's more of a DPH thing. We don't have the resources. My boss will get upset if I was to bring those rats to my desk because we don't have a lab for combing for fleas.

Man:

00:38:11

That would have to go to a lab, I would think. But there are, certain diseases like typhus tat rats could be carrying. I don't know plague these days, but we had presentation a couple months ago on that subject.

Nader:

00:38:26

Absolutely. But we don't have a vector agency like the other adjacent, peer stations around the bay area. Like Alameda County. Like any other county except San Francisco.

Man:

00:38:41

I won't ask why, thanks.

Pruitt:

00:38:43

I don't know if you're going to mention that the fact that we did consult with him as far as whether they're coming from a sewer or are, they just coming from the surface level? So, that is a consideration. Like Portsmouth for example.

Nader:

00:38:58

Yeah, I was going to point that out as a different entities working together. So when I was looking into what Rec and Park was doing in Chinatown around Portsmouth Square--In around October of 2016, I reviewed the rat treatment, the sewer treatment records, that Luis' company (Pestec) generates and found that, there is very little activity in the sewers in that area and absolutely no activity according to these records and the streets, adjacent Portsmouth Square. So, that indicated that the infestation is mainly concentrated in the areas above the sewer system.

Nader:

00:39:50

You know, like if you, if you can imagine Portsmouth Square there is some dirt areas surrounding that are riddled with rat burrows. And that kind of indicated that, there is no breach, or they're not using a breach in the sewer, where they're coming up through the sewer, burrowing through those areas and surfacing. We think it's mainly contained in those areas.

Agurto:

00:40:12

What do you think the food source is?

Pruitt:

00:40:14

There's a lot of restaurants nearby. We've been out there at night trapping and we've noticed people just putting trash outside in the alleyways and whatnot. That was another reason we worked with public works and they, and we when we went out in those alleys to--we actually cited some places. And as well as, public works looked at who had trash service. A lot of these restaurants didn't even have trash service. So, that was a big issue.

Nader:

00:40:48

And not necessarily just the restaurants, if I can inject this. It is also the housing maybe overcrowded and the number of people in the housing may be overcrowded and the number of people in the housing overwhelms the garbage, accommodations. So, it's most more likely that things get dumped out into the street as well

Question:

00:41:15

Digging up the subway contributed in any way, or the fact that Portsmouth is over a garage?

Pruitt:

00:41:21

Well, anytime there is construction and there's movement of dirt, the rodents will move to different areas. And a good example, of Washington Square, we're doing--construction just started. They just put up the fence. But what we did is before they actually started construction mobilization and put the fence up. We were able to go in five days prior and trap and check traps every day. The numbers started at 20, 10 and 5, and so we whittled it down to zero. Then they didn't even start construction so that the local neighborhood is not getting impacted by displacing rodents.

Nader:

00:41:58

If I can say something is-- we were out there concurrently taking a look at the area and we saw the fenced off area, where the excavation was occurring for the central subway project. We also saw the, you know, those big steel plates that go over the excavation when they're done. Okay. The rats had chewed around the perimeter of those plates through the asphalt, through the blacktop that they were putting there, So, they were coming up from the excavation. In 2013, I had been contacted by the MTA regarding the subway project and asked what our criteria is for a vector mitigation plan. And I told them basically that we have no criteria, but I will take a look at whatever they put together and if it's good, I'll endorse it. And I did review it and I found that they put together a really comprehensive plan on not just addressing rats, but mosquitoes, flies, small animals like raccoons, so on and so forth. They just went through the whole thing and I believe Pestec might've, or I think Pestec did offer that plan. But come to actually do it, it just went dead.

Agurto:

00:43:16

So, can I speak to the that? Their (inaudible) said that they had to create a vector control plan for the construction, but they didn't have to implement them.

Audience:

00:43:26

(Laughter).

Agurto:

00:43:26

So, that was the oversight in the contract.

Woman:

00:43:31

So, one thing that you mentioned was about burrowing underneath the buildings. And I guess this question is kind of for anyone in the room to answer. What do you guys do when, when they're burrowing under a building? Like not in the crawl space, but literally you see that they are burrowing under the concrete of the building. Like there's some type of sandy material or something and they're able to burrow under the building.

Pruitt:

00:44:09

Well it's the same thing. You can either exclude them with like the excluder material that was presented, or steel mesh. Especially when they're trying to go towards the edge of the building, you can bring it out like a foot or so and they'll dig, but then they'll lose interest a lot of times. That's one tactic. And if the building's unoccupied, you could do a CO treatment. There are baits, you can bait burrows. We don't do that because we don't want to take the risk of baits getting expelled back into the parks system.

Nader:

00:44:42

Yeah, if it gets to that point, it can be reported to me. And, as long as there is evidence of actual activity, a lot of times, I would refer that to Pestec to gravitate their service in that area.

Woman:

00:44:58

I'm talking about like a private property. You know, are we going to ask a homeowner to put mesh in their whole front year? Like say if the rodents are burrowing, like they have tunnels that go from front to the backyard. Are we going to ask them to mesh down in the whole front yard and the whole backyard?

Nader:

00:45:23

I have the impression what your question was, was what do you do if they're burrowing into the building? Isn't that what it was? Oh, underneath.

Woman:

00:45:31

Underneath, but not into the building.

Pruitt:

00:45:35

It's always good to have a clearance too for the building. A lot of times the vegetation is a big deal. In sitting out vegetations away from the building, like two, three feet out and you can put like a harder surface like, DG or some kind of hard packed gravel. Because they like to go to the edge of some kind of structured because they want to have that route. So, if they, you're digging and they could come out two, three feet, they're not going to continue to dig necessarily. So, it'll at least move them away from the building three feet that you can treat those burrows too, as well.

Woman:

00:46:10

Thank you.

Agurto:

00:46:15

I think a common practice for contractors is to set a bait box next to them and then feed the rats forever and helping to kill the rats that are going in. I think a better treatment would be to directly treat the burrow. So, we do have that dye track tracking powder, which is a first generation anticoagulant that you can directly treat into a burrow and leave the door open to let them come in and out and then they get it on themselves and groom and that's how they ingest it, or you would need a second generation or maybe, a non-anticoagulant pellet to treat them there. But there some risks with that. It would take some monitoring by the applicator. But I feel like that's a standard that really just has to be discussed and maybe even captured in the pesticide producers' specific directions. Are you adding any burrow rodenticides that are listed here?

Man:

00:47:05

So, the draft, according to the work group meeting that we had, there was a request to allow non block, second gen products. So, formulations that are not blocked. So that's in there on the draft and there was some restrictions written into them. And I actually meant to say that the new draft list is ready and will be distributed this week to you all. You know, there's kind of an extended time. There'll be public comment on that. Written public comment we hope. But it's also a chance we can tweak it to make sure we got it right. That's a tough issue, you know, and it might be one of those things that we don't want to allow in parks for sure. Maybe in more urbanized settings where...

Agurto:

00:48:03

Dense urban areas where you have an extensive situation.

Man:

00:48:08

Geo Mesh on a person's yard would be really expensive I am sure.

Agurto:

00:48:14

And you would still need to abate the rats that are there. I mean you always want to start with treating what's there.

Man:

00:48:20

We'll get rid of it. Get rid of any sanitary conditions that are attracting them. And actually, we have a set of guidelines on preventing pests in landscapes that will address some of that. It can be a resource also. You're at DPH?

Question:

00:48:35

Does the Department of Health out the power to compel a private property owner to undertake abatement?

Nader:

00:48:46

Yes, absolutely. Under the sections that I pointed out earlier, and also under what's called Article 11 of the San Francisco Health Code that addresses public health nuisances, which mainly covers vector issues.

Question:

00:49:02

Would that be the likelier way, or would they be required to allow a public entity or contractor to come onto their property to undertake abatement?

Nader:

00:49:13

Well, that would be one of the directives. I mean, first we would go out and investigate the situation and when we do, we take note of any contributing factors, you know, be it exclusion, food sources, you know, and other things that need to be addressed to deter the rats. And on top of that, you know, if necessary, we require them to hire a professional pest control company. So, it's not only that we want them to get rid of the rats, we would want them to get rid of any reason or contributing factors of why the rats you want to be there in the first place. And that would be noted on the notice of violation.

Man:

00:49:58

Sure. All of the contributing factors as well as treatment of the burrows themselves.

Nader:

00:50:03

Absolutely. Treatment of the boroughs. We could follow up with, referring it to Pestec for treatment of the sewers if necessary. And also surface treatment if necessary.

Question:

00:50:14

Has that powered been exercised?

Nader:

00:50:20

Absolutely. We do that regularly. Yeah.

Question:

00:50:21

That's the only recourse?

Agurto:

00:50:29

Is there a mechanism to have your contractor treat and then charge back that property for those services so it doesn't come out of the citywide budget?

Nader:

00:50:39

Whether it's you or another contractor? That's up to the property owner. We leave that up to them, who to pick to do this as long as it gets done. And, by the way, Sir, if we issue an NOV, it's not the end of the world. It's just us notifying them. It's a notice. Now we'll work with them in doing the corrections, but if they really don't come through when they should we could bump it up as an enforcement agency.

Man:

00:51:06

You could place a lien against the property?

Nader:

00:51:09

Yeah. If we charge re-inspection fees that they don't pay, we could, or fines, we'd lien the property, if it gets to that point. But it typically doesn't.

Man:

00:51:20

Other questions for Matt?

Question:

00:51:26

How many rats are in San Francisco?

Audience:

00:51:29

(Laughter)

Pruitt:

00:51:38

A lot.

Nader:

00:51:38

We had an assistant director that said for each person there's a rat.

Pruitt:

00:51:41

Who knows if it's more or less.

Nader:

00:51:41

Well, we endeavor to make it less.

Question:

00:51:46

How many notices of violation does the Department of Health issue for rats a year, would you guess?

Nader:

00:51:51

Oh, I can't say because, those notices of violations, you know, are also for bedbugs and you know, other type of vermin. So, maybe a better question if you wanted to obtain that information from the Department of Public Health, is how many rat complaints we get, every year. And, you know, can, dial-up those fingers upon request. But I don't know them off hand.

Audience:

00:52:25

(Applause)

Agurto:

00:52:58

Hi. Luis, Pestec. So, this is a photo of our field trip that we took, with DPH, DPW, and Rec and Park in April of last year. This was driven partly by a DPW. They were working on, cleaning up Chinatown and doing some repairs and maintenance. And Spofford alley was one of the locations. And they asked us for help. How can we help control some of the rat problem? And we knew that, the contributor for rats in Chinatown, our dumpster areas or waste bins, dumping that was happening. And also, all the nooks and crannies that are in between buildings that rats are able to pass in and out of. So, on our field trip we documented much of that. Nader did a present some a notice to the property owners and we worked with Rec and Park to abate some real estate that the rats have moved into.

Agurto:

00:53:56

And this was a little strip of land on the backside of a tennis ball court. If you go to the next slide, you can see it.

Nader:

00:54:02

I just wanted to mention real quick and let's give credit to the food program at the Department of Public Health that worked with the eateries around the area.

Agurto:

00:54:08

Oh, working with those restaurants.

Nader:

00:54:09

The restaurants or the markets.

Agurto:

00:54:11

So, you can see that it really does take a, a big collaborative effort to be able to reach all the stakeholders to address this in a preventative way. Typically, and as Nader kind of alluded to earlier, pest management is something that's driven by crisis and complaints. And so, it's my hope that these kinds of conversations that we're having right now, we can take those crises and what we learned in the past and start doing some prevention upfront. So, for me, this is a success story.

Speaker 9:

00:54:37

We were able to identify a big source of population of where the rats were living. Rec and Park had us abate the problem. We used a giant gas destroyers in this case. And even though this seems like it's up against the building, this is like a cutoff area down there. So, we watched it and it didn't pose it and kind of problem. We installed, the concrete there and I think that we abated that specific source of rat problem for a period of time. Now. Willy Woo Woo Wong playground is under construction, so they've completely gutted this entire playground except for this tennis court. And, there are some trailers that are there. I went by yesterday to take a picture. I did see an immature rat kind of running around here and it was coming from this corner between two different buildings.

Agurto:

00:55:29

So, the job isn't done, there is still a source of rats in between these properties, but at least they're not growing on Rec and Park's property anymore. So, I feel pretty good about that. So next slide. Another example. Oh, this is yesterday. This is the construction trailers are there and the concrete is still in place and there aren't any burrows. So, that's one way of sealing off routes is putting concrete there. Next one. Oh, that's the construction site as it is, and all the cars are parked up on 10 squares over there. And that goes to another thing that we learned. So, that was an instance of us abating a problem before construction had occurred. And I think that's something that we should be really happy with. I think what's missing now is the construction site needs to have an ongoing management plan and that's something we could probably address, systematically by putting it in contracts or the plans for those new capital improvement projects.

Agurto:

00:56:27

This is an example at West Portal, a parking lot in West Portal. This is an SFMTA location. The size of the parking lot had this landscaped area with the Ivy. The ivy was totally overgrown. It's really hard to see even with this picture up close of the rat burrows. But you can imagine that there were, you know, I would say over a hundred burrows, on this wall alone and probably in other areas. So, he did something very similar to like a Nikki did at UN Plaza. We removed the weeds. We dug out some of this area and instead of the Geo cloth, we use the screen, a stainless-steel hardware cloth. And then we put DG on top of it. So, with that, I think that we left the place better than we found it and we got rid of the rats. So, I feel pretty happy about that as well.

Question:

00:57:19

Luis, you said you got rid of the rats. So, did you do something before the in between? So, you really abated the rats before excavating?

Agurto:

00:57:28

Yes, exactly. I did. Exactly, otherwise we were going to chase them maybe into the pizza place next store. Yeah. So, we did some trapping at nighttime. For the back-fence area, we used the giant gas destroyers. For these big openings that are in this concrete slab that probably go to that restaurant, we did treat this with rodenticide and traps.

Nader:

00:57:50

Just for the record. Sorry. We did have a food inspector go into the pizza (place) and no rats. There is no backdoor or anything. It did not have rats at the time of those visits.

Agurto:

00:58:10

Okay. So great. And we were in conversation about this that that was a potential. So, you ruled it.

Nader:

00:58:16

We had them go over and check it out.

Agurto:

00:58:18

Okay, fantastic.

Man:

00:58:20

The Algerian Ivy there is probably one of the most pernicious exotic species grown as the landscape plant in the coast of California, easily in the top 10. How deep did you dig down to remove the roots?

Agurto:

00:58:37

Yeah, I had a feeling this was going to come up and I wanted to ask how do we deal with the roots that are in between these concrete slabs?

Man:

00:58:43

Because, I think part of this mitigation plan is going to require returning to the site to continue to remove, or heaven forbid, treat foliage that inevitably going to sprout from even a one-inch piece of root that was left behind.

Agurto:

00:59:01

Yeah, I think you're right. And it could destroy everything that we did install there.

Man:

00:59:04

Just turn your back on it and it will be right back like that in a couple of years.

Agurto:

00:59:08

So, I'm going to need some help from the group here on how we can we address that or how can SFMTA address that? Because in the end it's their landscaping.

Man:

00:59:16

Stop selling it in nurseries.

Agurto:

00:59:16

This has been there for years. I'm sure.

Question:

00:59:20

Is that an old sprinkler head on the right.

Agurto:

00:59:29

Yeah. Well there's pipe that goes all the way around this.

Question:

00:59:32

Okay. So, have you had to do with irrigation in addition to kind of dealing with these strips and having like irrigation as part of this kind of layer cake you guys are building?

Agurto:

00:59:45

No. In this instance all we did was remove what was there, installed the DGA on top of it.

Question:

00:59:51

Okay. So, do you anticipate that might come up?

Agurto:

00:59:54

I'm sure.

Question:

00:59:57

Okay, has anyone? No one? Okay.

Agurto:

01:00:01

Yeah, I think they're going to have to go back and remove it. Because now there shouldn't be anything growing there the way we left it.

Man:

01:00:08

You can cut around have the pipes go above.

Man:

01:00:14

There's a point where we have to cut around irrigation.

Woman:

01:00:14

Yeah, us too. We just found if we add one extra layer as we are doing the ends and stuff. It is just something that we are always thinking about.

Man:

01:00:14

But you can plant on top of that so you can put grass or shrubbery, or whatever, after you put the barrier down. So, you don't necessarily have to use DG.

Man:

01:00:32

You can't walk away from that place. You keep watering it. That's what's coming back. Nothing else that you can just put over the top and make it disappear.

Woman:

01:00:42

Oh, I wasn't ... okay, sorry, I wasn't... I was just thinking as we consider designs.

Agurto:

01:01:00

And I think that really the service here would fall to the landscapers, or whoever's redesigning this place. This was kind of a pilot for us to see, can we leave it better off than the way we found it. We keep rats from continually going there.

Agurto:

01:01:17

So, next slide. So, that's an outdoor setting on rodent, but neighborhoods are also impacted by what's happening in construction. We talked about this. And it's kind of anecdotal that when we start stirring up the street or we're leveling a building, that we flush the rodents from those buildings into our spaces. In City Hall, we've been having a lot of mouse calls this year. A big spike in mouse calls. Earlier this year they ripped up South Van Ness for a new bus lane.

Agurto:

01:01:49

So it's not just in City Hall, it's in Civic Center, we've been seeing an increase in mouse calls. So, we knew that this was coming. We had talked about it. We knew that, we were going to have to do some prevention. and you know, things don't really--people aren't moved until it becomes an issue. So, after we started getting mouse calls, we did get the okay to go back and fix some screens that over time had been reopened up and where mice were getting in, to install some doors sweeps. And, now we're working with facility staff as they're remodeling office spaces and changing carpets to really seal up mouse openings that are around utilities or, under baseboards where we see mice are passing through. So, that's another pest prevention practice, that we use, during the lifespan of a building.

Nader:

01:02:39

Yeah. I was also going to mention, I know that you're a limited to city hall, but just to let you know, other buildings around that area, namely our building, Fox Plaza, I'm embarrassed to say that the health department has a mouse problem now that we're trying to deal with. And also, the courthouse at 400 McAllister. Now the problem there with addressing that situation is--you know those, if you've ever been to the courthouse, the front doors. You've got these big heavy doors, that are regarded as historical--it's a historical structure. So, they are avoiding doing rodent proofing there because of that reason. You know, and I just wanted to point that out as a factor that we would probably need to consider when we're addressing these things with other agencies.

Agurto:

01:03:31

Yeah. And even when they're willing to change the door, sometimes it's hard to fix those doors anyway because they're all glass or they're heavy steel on the bottom and there is really no good solution pest prevention.

Nader:

01:03:42

We came up with some solutions but not durable because they can't really be fixed at the door. It's glued on.

Agurto:

01:03:50

So those are the three examples that I brought.

Man:

01:03:54

Any questions?

Question:

01:03:54

Did you use a wildlife camera? Like when nobody's there, can you track the rodent, or the activity of the rodent? Like I had a wildlife camera. I lived in Sonora, I had 200 flashes in one night, in one crawl space. And I didn't know until I actually got the camera to record it when I was not awake.

Agurto:

01:04:38

Yeah, we do find that to be helpful. In particular for roof rats, yeah. In San Francisco, we've been having more roof rat issues and tropical rat mite problems associated with the roof rat. And trying to find a rat in a, you know, how they get into a building from the roof line can be very tricky. and actually, finding attic spaces that are finished. So, they have dry wall in the attic spaces. You're not really sure what bay it's in, that's been something helpful for us, installing those cameras.

Pruitt:

01:05:08

We did that here to see if we had roof rats. And sometimes it's easy to figure out where they're coming from. And you kind of follow them and the next week. I move the camera in this direction and kind of find out where the hole is, where the void spaces. That's very helpful.

Man:

01:05:28

There is actually a technology making the rounds now it's more remote sensors, like automatically sensing rodents. Basically, it's something like bait box. They go in it. It trips in trips a signal on the Internet, it has an Internet of things kind of set up. So, automatic monitoring, promoted by some very big companies that we usually don't do that much business with. I mean, it's an interesting idea and I'm curious to where it's going to go.

Agurto:

01:06:06

We're in the testing phase right now at the Academy of Science. So, we're using a mouse trap that has a sensor on it and sends you a text message when it's trigger. Exactly. But there's all, you know, it's new technology and it's a little clunky and you have to get onto the Wi-Fi network, or you have to provide a hotspot. And so, I think there's different versions coming out with different tech.

Man:

01:06:28

I think one of the problems they cited was, you know, there has to be Internet. And so, if you buy this product also have to buy these little boxes to make sure there's internet everywhere, you're putting the sensors.

Question:

01:06:48

I wonder how those sensors work? Because we have a bunch of boxes around the areas we have, and we don't know how often they are checked.

Agurto:

01:06:57

Bait station boxes? Yeah. I mean they are typically checked on a monthly basis. If it's bait and if it's traps it should be more frequently. We try not to leave a trapping station unattended for more than a week otherwise then we're dealing with a maggot riddled carcass and smells and it becomes less attractive for the rats. That's where this IOT trap would be really helpful. You could have trapping stations and only check the ones that need to be serviced.

Nader:

01:07:26

We have problems in the city in various areas where people like the rats and they feed them. We've had problems with them going into a bait boxes and replacing the rodenticide with cat food. They are feeding their pets, their dogs, you know, by walking down the street and throwing kibble on the ground and you know, dog doesn't eat everything.

Man:

01:07:57

Is the infamous blue pickup still making the rounds with feeding pigeons. There was a blue pickup truck and guy and he'd go around everyday throwing out bird seed.

Speaker 9:

01:08:13

Or stale bread. That's super common. In the square, in many parks. Same people that live nearby everyday go out there and dump their old bread.

Man:

01:08:27

Anyone who's ever watched Mary Poppins.

Nader:

01:08:40

Okay. Well, let's give Luis a hand.

Audience:

01:08:41

(Applause).

Nader:

01:08:41

So, considerations for improvements. So, where do we go from here? We can probably all chime in on this, but as far as the Department of Public Health is concerned, we have a contract or, actually the PUC has a contract with a Pestec, which we managed, and that contract is for $100,000 a year, for Chinatown and also another $100,000 dollars a year for the rest of the city. And not contract's been going on since, 2000?

Agurto:

01:09:16

Yeah.

New Speaker:

01:09:17

Okay. We probably should be putting more money into that. Also, we've talked about a heat mapping and concentrating our efforts where more of a activity is noted in the city, using heat map technology. And even prior to that, I was talking to somebody from the San Mateo County, a vector control agency that really, advocated that. So, we may be going in that direction as well. As an extension of the San Francisco Health Code, Article 11, the nuisance code, we have our directors' rules on vector control that are a bit archaic. And in my upgrade of those rules, I'll be including sections on demolition, excavation and construction. So that, you know, those issues can be handled as well. So, that would be bumped up to the health department management, which would be dealing with the management of those entities involved.

Agurto:

01:10:36

So, it would be a requirement to do more abatement during those periods?

Nader:

01:10:36

Yes.

Agurto:

01:10:36

Would you specify the type of abatement or requirements?

Nader:

01:10:43

To a certain extent, yes. We would like to see pre-baiting before the construction or demolition of about one to two months within about a 1,000-foot radius from the site and sewers. Yeah. And also, maybe for remodeling or renovation. And I know that the City of Cupertino has this. And they're, the only jurisdiction that I know that has this, requiring pest clearance one to two months before they start to avoid the migration of our mice or rodents from those areas as well. So, a pest control company would either have to come in, clear the property of rodent infestation or treat any existing rodent infestation to prevent the migration of those rodents during the remodeling. Did, anybody else want to chime in on that? DPW, Pestec, Rec and Park? As far as anything you have in stored in the future.

Question:

01:12:02

Ideas for improvement in general?

Nader:

01:12:04

Yes.

Question:

01:12:06

What are the main things like technology or software?

Nader:

01:12:11

You know, I'm still living in the 70's. Who'd know that? Let's see. He wants the names of the entities or programs that would be doing the heat-mapping. We do have a sector of environmental health that deals with that. So, we would be asking them to do the heat- mapping. And I believe, you're, working on something along those lines, right?

Agurto:

01:12:38

Yes. We actually convened a rat task force, maybe a year ago. Is it time to reconvene that group and then follow up and see where we are on these different projects and issues?

Nader:

01:12:49

That I would have to run by Larry. He would be making the call on that. And also, we, you know, if we do, we'd probably have to involve that sector of environmental health that does that.

Man:

01:13:04

Let me know if you want some help putting it together. I think it's a great idea. So, this is putting together data that is already there. Essentially, it's linking it together and then, you know, making a heat map, let's say, and or a map that shows you the history of each spot, which you already have when right.

Agurto:

01:13:25

Right. We have now for manhole treatments. But what's missing is what's happening around those manholes. So, we'd like to pull in EPW data, Rec and Park data and our other data from other locations.

Man:

01:13:39

So, what would it take to get that moving?

Nader:

01:13:41

Well I would have to discuss that with Larry. He's involved in the other sectors of healthy housing. Of course, we have (inaudible) health program that and shelters that take a lot of time. And it's just a matter of scheduling it.

Agurto:

01:14:00

I have one idea. So, (inaudible) doesn't really have a location for people to report pest problems, or at least not you can find, or it's not logical to how you get to it. And so actually we looked recently at all the 311 reports. We have the report for it. And there wasn't a single one for pests.

Nader:

01:14:25

I think, Robert, you're working with 311, right. We do regularly get 311 complaints for pests.

Man:

01:14:36

We do too at Rec and Parks.

New Speaker:

01:14:36

Every time you call 311 and if you mention pests, it will come to public health directly. Even though it might be Public Works property, Rec and Park, BART, Muni, it will come to us first always. So, then we have to send it back to the proper agency.

Mixon:

01:14:57

Well, see then, that way it's easy for you guys to track it. And then when it comes to us, we're not able to track it as if it was coming through directly by 311.

Nader:

01:15:07

Even if you have the service number?

Mixon:

01:15:11

Yeah, because our service, our service order number system is different. There's about three or four different service order systems for the whole city. So, some people get service orders, but there's no service that does it. You get service orders. So, there's, there's all these different for each. So, the same service order could go through four different entities and the number would change every single time.

Agurto:

01:15:36

So, maybe there's a way to redraw the lines on where things go or organize how input happens.

Nader:

01:15:42

I remember going into 311 once for a pest complaint and it seemed like, you really needed to know where to look.

Mixon:

01:15:51

Right. Yeah, exactly.

Nader:

01:15:53

Yeah, that's probably something we can look into and talk to them about it.

Man:

01:15:58

It's a lot easier if you're talk to someone on the other line. So, that's why I tell people to call and talk to a human being. It makes it a lot easier to do it on your phone or online, but better to talk to another person on the other end of the line.

Mixon:

01:16:14

But the thing about doing it online sometimes it's easier because you can take a picture of the location for it.

Man:

01:16:15

And a lot of times the photograph is not. Going to come to us. I'll get half of it. So, I'm looking at the sky and I'm like, okay, so what am I supposed to look for here? It's not working a 100% the way it is supposed to. Not yet. Anyway.

Woman:

01:16:56

So, this is going to back to the pigeon feeding. Does anyone know about how to get signage? Like how to get police to put signs saying, "please do not feed the pigeons?" I've seen them at Glen Park, Bart, randomly. I don't know how the police decided to put signage saying, ""please do not feed pigeons," which is awesome. But I have areas that are like an island, you know that's right by an elementary school. That person who I cannot catch, and I don't have any enforcement. I just want to catch the person and say, "."Hey, can I give you an educational handout? Please do not feed the pigeons here." Because this person is continuously feeding. And it'd be nice if we could just get a sign that said on public property on that little island, please do not feed there. But I don't know how to get anyone to get the signage or do I have to complain to the police?

Man:

01:17:55

Yeah, we BART right across from the airport and a lot of people go there and open their little bags at the BART station in the parking lot, all the pigeons then come over it to the airport.

Nader:

01:18:30

Usually here in the city if you see signs put up, there is another entity aside from the police department that would probably put him off. Like Bart itself might do that.

Man:

01:18:50

Yeah, Rec and Park can put in a sign too.

Woman:

01:18:51

Are you guys allowed to just put them up?

Mixon:

01:18:53

It depends on whose asset it is.

Nader:

01:19:24

Both work for roof rats? We respond to it, on a complaint basis and usually we, uh, we would look up while we, we, we could survey the area for what it's worth. But, you know, the Norway, I mean the roof rat, our range is pretty wide. But we try to find, harborage points within the neighborhood, mainly overgrown vegetation or excessive material piled up in the backyards or homes that are, that are, that may harbor the infestation. I mean, w when we walk through certain neighborhoods sometimes, it'll hit us in the face where we see a house with, some gnawing on the garage door, rub marks, droppings around the house. Then we look up into the window and we might even see some, some signs of activity there. And literally, one of our investigators back there, literally seen up a mouse crawling up a curtain in a, in a house, you know, you remember that sir. Okay. so, we would survey the area, but again, when you're dealing with Norway Rats, it could be beyond the area that we surveyed.

Man:

01:20:42

Yeah. Wondering if it's more difficult and more difficult because you generally will have to work with a homeowner or within a structure.

Nader:

01:20:52

Well, it's a, a lot of homeowners are cooperative, and a lot of homeowners are not cooperative. A lot of city agencies you can work with in 11 CD agencies you can't work with, you know? so it depends on the situation. Other questions?