Northern California City Ranked 2nd Dirtiest in the Nation

A recent study ranked U.S. cities by how dirty they are, and a northern California city showed up as #2 on the list.

House Fresh analyzed over 12 million complaints made to 311 (we’ll explain) in the last year and sorted them by ZIP code. They then ranked ZIP codes per 100,000 residents to find out (by their measures) what are the dirtiest cities in the United States. Complaints included sewage, garbage, recycling and other garbage-related calls.

Baltimore was ranked the dirtiest with 47,295 sanitation-related complaints.

Right behind Baltimore was northern California’s own City of Sacramento. Sacramento had 34,186 complaints of sanitation issues, which placed them #2 in the nation.

Three other California cities made the nation’s list of dirtiest. Los Angeles had 21,616 complaints per 100,000 residents placing them as the fourth dirtiest city in the nation. Oakland was #15 and San Francisco was #19.

What is the Cleanest City in the United States?

According to the study, Milwaukee is the cleanest city with only 309 complaints per 100,000 residents.

An infographic from HouseFresh shows the cities with the most complaints of garbage.
Image from

What is 311?

The study used complaints made to the 311 reporting system. It’s a citizen’s hotline to report problems such as debris, garbage, graffiti, leaking hydrants or sewer problems.

Sacramento’s city website describes 311 as:

Whether it’s refuse collection, leaf pickup, street sweeping or world-class drinking water, Sacramento is a leader in providing quality customer services. Sacramento City 311 enhances these amenities by making City government even more accessible.

Sacramento City 311 is a centralized call center for the City of Sacramento that is intended to make life a little easier for its residents, businesses and visitors. Sacramento City 311 call center works to answer questions as.

City of Sacramento

All Solano’s Thoughts

We thought this study was interesting and took a creative approach to measuring “The Dirtiest Cities in the United States.” But obviously a lot of other factors go into how clean or dirty a city is. Different regions could have different levels of familiarity with the 311 reporting system. Some cities don’t even use it.

It’s also possible residents in cities like San Francisco and Oakland have just become more used to sanitation issues and don’t call any more.

Another study posted by Insider Monkey used U.S. Census data and ranked Los Angeles and San Francisco the second and third dirtiest cities, respectively, behind Philadelphia. Sacramento did not make it to the top 25 on that list.

Take it for what it is, but based on this study, the capitol of California is pretty filthy.

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