Innovative tool removing gum from sidewalks

Posted at 6:21 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 21:21:29-05

A new tool is being used to clean up the chewing gum building up on the sidewalks of downtown San Diego.

Sean Maguire likes a tidy entry to Blarney Stone Pub in the Gaslamp Quarter.

"It brightens up the place a wee bit," said Maguire.

What Maguire dislikes is what's on many of the sidewalks around the area.

"It's terrible, especially when it's really, really hot, it sticks to your shoes. You could step in worse, I suppose," said Maguire.

City crews are using an innovative tool that's loud and powerful, but getting the job done.

It also has a secret ingredient inside -- little pellets of dry ice, which freezes each wad of gum, turns it into dust and allows the machine to zap it away.

"And it's very friendly to the environment because nothing is going into the storm drains," said Bahija Hamraz of Downtown San Diego Partnership's Clean and Safe Program.

A two-man team known as the "gum removal experts" is out there every weekday, blasting the gum one piece at a time.

"We're averaging about one block a week," said Hamraz.

The end result is little stains that are hardly visible and that will be washed away with a regular power washer using plain water.

"Who wants dirty roads? You don't come all the way to San Diego to walk in a mess and gum sticking to your shoes," said Maguire.

San Diego Ice Company provides the dry ice, and property owners are picking up the tab.

"It's looking well. Happy days," said Maguire.

The Clean and Safe Program works with people who live and work in the six downtown neighborhoods, from Little Italy to the East Village.