A sigh of relief: SF's Noe Valley neighborhood will finally get a public toilet

The restroom is expected to be delivered on March 7

Lyanne Melendez Image
Thursday, February 8, 2024
A sigh of relief: SF's Noe Valley will finally get a public toilet
Residents and visitors of San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood will finally have a public bathroom with the help of donations.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The infamous million dollar Noe Valley toilet is in the news once again. After the public was shocked by its high construction costs, delays and politics, there is finally a new date for its installation.

It will make its home at the Noe Valley Town Square, a small refuge in a bustling little neighborhood.

It's where reading is rewarded, dogs are looked after, and as the signs indicate, camping is certainly not allowed, there's no smoking, no feeding the birds, no littering, no glass containers and, still, no bathroom.

RELATED: SF is in need of public restrooms, but is $1.7M too much for a 150-square-foot facility?

The price of San Francisco's $1.7 million toilet planned for Noe Valley has been significantly reduced, thanks to donations by two companies.

"But it would be helpful to have a toilet here because there are no public toilets on 24th Street, said Frances Verrinder a Noe Valley resident.

"For people who are just visiting, a tourist who's gotta go," added Jesica Meyers, also a resident here.

The drama surrounding the proposed toilet reads like an afternoon soap opera.

The initial cost of $1.7 million shocked even the most skeptical of San Franciscans.

How could a 150 square foot bathroom cost that much?

"Why not? Why wouldn't it be, you know it's the city," said one resident.

Last year, the city's Recreation and Parks Department gave us a long list of things involved when building a no-frills bathroom, such as landscaping design, permits and environmental reviews, staff time, permit fees and architecture and engineering required to make sure everything works and fits together.

RELATED: SF is in need of public restrooms, but is $1.7M too much for a 150-square-foot facility?

Controversy is brewing in San Francisco over a proposed $1.7 million 150-square-foot bathroom in Noe Valley.

But when people criticized it for being financially excessive, the city backed off and turned to two out-of-state vendors who offered to donate a pre-fabricated modular bathroom and provide free architecture and engineering services.

All they needed to do was to find local union workers to install the toilet.

At the time, it was good publicity. After all, the Noe Valley Public Toilet is so notorious that it now has its own Wikipedia page.

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New public toilets have arrived in San Francisco, complete with a contemporary futuristic look that reminds you of the series "Star Trek."

Chad Kaufman, is the owner of the Public Restroom Company, donating the toilet.

Based in Nevada, for him dealing with San Francisco's convoluted building process has been a lesson in patience.

"Municipal governments just have to go through these proper procedures and every city, every county is different along the United State. It's just the way it is," said Kaufman.

Meanwhile, the other donating company Volumetric Building, complained that the high costs of local construction had delayed the installation.

That prompted Rec and Parks to write them a letter, stating, "Unfortunately, despite assurances of an efficient installation made to our General Manager and in the press, the restroom's opening is now four months behind schedule."

"They had some unforeseen delays on their side, some staff out and the construction cost was a little shocking to them but all the issues have been resolved and we're grateful for their gift and every thing is in place now," explained Tamara Barak Aparton with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

The residents of Noe Valley will finally get their bathroom. The onsite construction preparations will begin next Monday and the bathroom delivered on March 7.

According to Rec and Parks, they will have only spend $300,000 dollars to cover their end of the deal.

Since everything else was donated, the city will have $1.4 million left over for another similar bathroom project in Precita Park in Bernal Heights.

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