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

Lyanne Melendez Image
Thursday, October 20, 2022
Controversy brewing in SF over hot commodity
Controversy is brewing in San Francisco over a proposed $1.7 million 150-square-foot bathroom in Noe Valley.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is a city of controversies and there is a new one brewing. This time over the estimated cost of a public restroom that will make your nose scrunch.

There is also a competition of sorts in America to earn the right to be in the hall of fame for public bathrooms. Bryant Park and Greeley Square Park, both in New York City, and Bancroft Park in Colorado, all of them shown here in full glory.

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San Francisco public toilets have never reached that claim to fame.

"We have not had any winners from San Francisco," revealed Julia Messinger of Cintas Corporation, the large restroom supply company actually honors the best, brightest and most innovative public bathrooms.

"It's not something that people talk about often, but I think everyone values a clean and functioning bathroom," she added.

Maybe San Francisco is not ready to give up yet. Why not? The plumbing already exists. The city has secured state funding to build a small, 150-square-foot public bathroom right in the heart of the Noe Valley neighborhood at a cost of $1.7 million.

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"Put it to better use. It's ridiculous. $1.7 million for a stupid bathroom," expressed Augusto Illidge, a San Francisco Resident.

That's the estimate given by the Department of Recreation and Parks because of all the permits, planning, union labor, etc. that would be involved.

City officials hope it won't cost that much.

"They have an idea of what it will be but I don't think they have the formal final plans but now they will be in a position to be able to put that together," said State Senator Scott Wiener.

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Still, people here wanted to have a commode in place. By the way, commode comes from the French meaning suitable or convenient.

"You know it would be nice to have some facilities like that," said George Matiasz, a resident of Noe Valley.

"Having public access rather than having to go into a restaurant and say can I use the bathroom, I think that's what a neighborhood should have," added Kay Taneyhill, also a resident of Noe Valley.

New York, for example, is considering legislation that would force the city to build public restrooms in every ZIP code.

"We don't have nearly enough public restrooms in San Francisco," said Wiener.

Like most things in San Francisco, big dreams start in small places at a high cost.

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