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People demand more public bathrooms in San Francisco

A public works problem of particular urgency

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz

Throughout human history, there’s been one constant: When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.

But locals and visitors to San Francisco alike find themselves constantly confounded when looking for somewhere to heed nature’s call when out and about.

So much so that students at the private, non-profit school Minvera University floated a petition last month asking that the city install 10 more publicly accessible restrooms in San Francisco that attracted more than 15,000 signatures.

In fact, as of this morning the online effort is less than 300 people away from its present goal of 16,000 signatures.

That’s a figure equivalent to about two percent of the city’s population. (Although, surprisingly, only a bit more than 700 of those who signed list San Francisco as their residence.)

Restrooms in most SF BART stations remain closed for supposed terror threats.
Sky Collins

All three of the Minverva students who put the effort up are recent transplants to the city, according to Hoodline, and were caught off guard by dearth of facilities citywide.

The Department of Public Works offers public restrooms citywide, of course. But the recently launched Pit Stop program has limited hours, and the highly visible, privately maintained JC Decaux kiosks are frequently out of order.

A handy Google Map lists 126 facilities in the city, ranging from public restrooms to businesses that are at least game to help you out in an emergency.

But that adds up to less than one restroom every 0.4 square miles, or one for every 6,857 residents, not even counting tourists, commuters, and those overlooked by official census counts.

Compare this to New York City, whose 2,713 or so open bathrooms amount to roughly one every one tenth of a square mile, or one per every 3,000 residents or so. (Which is probably still not even enough.)

Bay Area restroom activists even installed a giant toilet in Hayes Valley as a form of protest/public art on World Toilet Day (November 19) complete with flushing sounds, just to drive the point home.

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