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Dad fumes at staff for smoking outside San Francisco hospital doors

Lower Nob Hill resident Joe Souza | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Joe Souza is fuming over hospital workers smoking in front of his children and blighting his neighborhood with cigarette butts.

The father of four says he’s walked through the mess almost every day for the past three years.

Souza has lived in Lower Nob Hill for four years, and frequently passes City View Post Acute, a senior health care hospital managed by Generations Healthcare. 

“They smoke cigarettes in their scrubs and then just throw them down,” Souza said of the medical staff.

Souza often walks past the hospital with two of his children, Tatum and Romy, aged 7 and 9, when taking them to martial arts practice.

“My kids are like, ‘Look, they’re all smoking again’,” Souza said.

Cigarette butts lie scattered next to a tree planted on the sidewalk on Pine Street between Hyde and Larkin streets on Jan. 26, 2022. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

“I told one doctor, ‘I live next door, and I gotta walk by this everyday,’” Souza said.

Souza has made multiple 311 complaints about the litter and said the hospital needs to find a solution to stop it from happening in the first place.

“What are they gonna do, patrol this area and clean it up everytime? It’s not right,” Souza said.

Data from 311 shows nine complaints requesting “general cleaning,” and one request related to cigarette butts.

Joe Souza stands outside City View Post Acute in Lower Nob Hill on Jan. 26, 2022. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

In an email, the Department of Public Works said the cigarette butts issue is ubiquitous and that the hospital, like any business, is responsible for removing litter from the sidewalk. The department said litter violations carry fines of up to $1,000 and that a business could be directed to provide ashtrays, “if feasible.”

“We will reach out to hospital administrators to remind them of their responsibilities,” Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon said.

Stolen Ashtrays

City View administrator Dolly Bindra said the hospital has tried to install ashtrays twice in the past, only to have them stolen, adding the facility is unable to bolt ashtrays to the sidewalk to prevent theft as it rents the building. Before buying ashtrays for a third time, the hospital wants to make sure they won’t be stolen again.

“We’re happy to purchase one a third time. The issue is that they get stolen,” Bindra said.

The only large outdoor space at the hospital is used to store oxygen tanks—which would make installing a smoking area difficult, said Bindra, who plans to consult with the hospital’s operations manager to explore possibilities.

“We are sensitive to these concerns and want to address them,” Bindra said.

“I think it’d be a good idea,” one hospital worker who declined to be named said as she flicked a still-smoldering cigarette against a tree.