O’Farrell St., between Hyde and Leavonworth, San Francisco
Some exciting things are happening in California, and have been for some time. Since we’ve been giving a lot of love to Cincinnati lately, I wanted to fill you in on the California scene.
First, Bedbuggers should know we have a friend in California: Dr. Laura Krueger. She’s the Associate Public Health Biologist in the Vector-Borne Disease Section of the California Dept. of Public Health. Laura has commented here a number of times, and has been reading the site for a while. She co-wrote the Guidelines for the Control and Prevention of Bed Bug Infestations in California (February 2007) (click here for a PDF). The California Bed Bug Guidelines were based, in turn, on other similar documents. A footnote tells us: “CDHS adapted these guidelines for bed bug control from the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association.” (Click here for a PDF of the 2nd edition of the Australian Guidelines (June 2007; California based their guidelines on the first edition); the San Francisco Guidelines link is currently down.
The California Bed Bug Guidelines are just that: suggestions, a good plan, for how PCOs, and owners of hotels and multi-unit dwellings should work to prevent and control bed bugs. The Guidelines are not enforceable in and of themselves.
As an example, the Guidelines suggest that PCOs should come a minimum of three times, spaced two weeks apart; that hotel or apartment managers should respond to complaints of bed bugs within 48 hours with a plan of action (and that the plan of action should be executed within 72 hours of the complaint being made); and that tenants should should not remove anything from the infested room until the PCO comes and directs them.
I would argue that some aspects of the guidelines need to be revised. For example, one guideline states that tenants should report bed bugs to the owner or operator “within 24 hours of the pest sighting”. This seems like good advice, but many people are bitten by bed bugs for a long time without actually seeing a pest. PCOs and other professionals are still learning how very stealthy bed bugs can be.
Nevertheless, the Guidelines are impressive and I am grateful that the California Department of Health Services has compiled them.
There have also been some recent positive developments in California in terms of government funding to help those with bed bugs fight the problem. In San Francisco, as the second item down on this page of the Central City SRO Collaborative (CCSRO) website states,
The Central City SRO Collaborative organized with tenants and other community groups to demand funding for subsidies for low-income tenants. At the urging of this activist group, [City of San Francisco] Supervisor Chris Daly got $63,000 in this year’s budget for subsidized laundry and freezing services for low-income tenants with bedbug infestations, a huge public education campaign for tenants and landlords, and 2 annual forums–one for landlords/tenants and one for social service workers/tenants–that will teach public health code, bedbug cleanup, and tenant advocacy.
Let’s pause a moment and reflect on the historical context of this: the hearing happened three months before NYC held its city council hearing on the resale of mattresses (one which has not yet borne fruit), and a good 16 months before Cincinnati’s recent fabled town hall meeting on bed bugs.
This is a wonderful example of how a tenants activist group (CCSRO) helped pressure the city to take action and provide funding for bed bug remediation and public education campaigns. Of special note is that this funding covers assistance to tenants who cannot afford laundry and “freezing services” (love to hear more about where that’s done!) as part of treating their posessions.
And we have also learned that in San Francisco, the Department of Aging and Adult Services (part of Adult Protective Services) can assist, in some cases, with preparation for bed bug treatment for elderly people who have trouble doing this for themselves.
This is something that is much needed, and I hope the provision of such assistance–for elderly people and those with mobility issues–will increase here and everywhere else.