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Bathrooms not included in new bus terminal

August 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco is about to get a new main transit hub, but it is missing one thing coffee-drinking commuters consider a necessity -- a bathroom. There will be no public restroom in the facility that will serve as the transbay hub for the next seven years.

They did this in the name of security, since bathrooms can attract homeless people looking for a place to wash up and they aren't wanted.

Security was at the top of the list of priorities when architects designed the temporary Transbay Terminal.

"It's pretty much open. You'll find there's no cubby holes for people to hang out and hide in at the end of the day," says architect Greg Mantz.

They used glass walls at the bus stops so commuters can see who is coming and going and cameras will help keep an eye on everyone.

It's almost like they were thinking of Oakland resident Janice Oeming as they drew the plans. She's a bit nervous about the location of the temporary terminal on Main Street between Folsom and Howard.

"A couple of blocks over you can see the encampments and everything and it is a little dark," says Oeming.

However, they may have taken things too far. Because of security, they also decided not to have public bathrooms, which can attract the homeless.

"True, but you got a lot of patrons and a lot of them go to Hayward too. So having them hold it or trying to find a restaurant or someplace that will let them in is going to be really difficult," says Oeming.

"We are trying to balance the needs of the neighbors and the transit riders and we certainly want the temporary terminal to be used by people who are actually using transit," says project spokeswoman Courtney Lodato.

Planners have heard from concerned residents like Bill Mar who came to Tuesday's tour to ask questions on behalf of his homeowner's association.

"I think the question is going to be about whether the homeless might migrate closer to our building," says Mar.

But commuters seem much more concerned about bathrooms than the homeless and one even suggested getting security guards to clear out the homeless and monitor the bathrooms.

As for the contemporary open-air design, it drew some rave reviews and some concerns.

"I like this. It's going to be interesting to see how it turns out and how many buses can fit in here, but it's pretty nice," says Oakland resident David Vartanoff.

"It looks great. We'll see when the rain starts coming, but hopefully in the summer it will be fine," says Oeming.

The architect took the constructive comments in stride.

"This is going to be a vibrant and wonderful space," says Mantz.

The new terminal will have bathrooms. Officials say when the bathrooms are inside buildings it's easier for security to control who uses them.

The new terminal is expected to open in 2017. This temporary one will open this Saturday morning.


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