The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

December 2, 2010
The Money Trail: City Hall has begun to clean up its fowl mess

They've had enough with the squawking over at Sacramento City Hall.

No, we're not talking about political infighting. This one's for the birds.

The city has installed noise makers on the roof of City Hall to scare away hundreds of birds that flock to the trees along 10th Street.

The past two winters, those birds - mostly crows - have been turning the sidewalks around City Hall into a slimy, slippery mess. It reached a nasty level last winter, when the walkways were so caked with excrement that women in high heels could barely stay upright and city crews were forced to clean the pavement three times a week with a power scrubber.

After hearing from angry residents, the city decided to flap its wings. Sacramento spent $2,852 last month on a sound system that plays predatory noises to scare away the birds. While the feathered nuisances are still leaving their mark on the sidewalks, it isn't nearly as bad as last year.

"We still have to tweak it a little," said Gina Knepp of the city's Department of General Services. "It takes a little time to get it right."

Knepp said the money spent on the new system - which included the cost of labor to install the devices - will offset what the city spent last year on manpower to wash off the sidewalks.

"We'll get a return on that investment," she said. "And we don't want it to be so dirty down there."

- Ryan Lillis

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About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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