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Supervisor Matt Haney demands city open bathrooms 24 hours

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Mayor orders some—but not all—restrooms to open all day and night

A portable restroom on a trailer on a street in San Francisco.
A pit stop in the Tenderloin in 2015.
Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney’s biggest public legacy may be in the toilet—which is exactly where the District Six lawmaker wants it. Haney has asked for all of the city’s public Pit Stop public bathrooms to open 24 hours a day.

Earlier this year, Haney pushed a pilot program keeping three Pit Stop toilets open for use around the clock. On Monday, he touted the success of the program with a rally in front of a toilet in the Tenderloin—presumably a first in city history.

Haney argues that reliable access to restrooms is a basic necessity for more than just SF’s homeless residents, citing night uses by “children, seniors, tourists, taxi drivers, couriers, Uber drivers, people leaving bars, neighborhood residents, anyone and everyone because all people poop and pee.”

The supervisor also noted the surprisingly difficult course convincing some San Franciscans that 24-hour restrooms are necessary, saying, “They actually said publicly, in hearings, that people are ‘asleep at night’ so no one would use the bathrooms.”

Mayor London Breed seems to agree with Haney, but only to a point; she announced this week that the three pilot Pit Stops will remain open 24/7 in perpetuity but has not said whether she will heed Haney’s call to open the other loos.

“This is not complicated—when people have access to a clean, safe restroom, they will use it,” Breed said in a statement .

The Mayor’s Office notes that, according to San Francisco Public Works, overnight uses of the Pit Stops totaled 10,518 during the pilot period, and steam cleaning requests decreased for a quarter mile around each one during that time. While coincidence is not always causality, it doesn’t take much imagination to put number two and number two together on that one.

Meanwhile, 311 complaints about solid waste are up 35 percent year over year in 2019. The Tenderloin saw an 11 percent decline during that period but still leads the city for cleanup calls.

SF maintains 25 Pit Stop restrooms throughout the city, with plans to open seven more with funds in the upcoming budget to the tune of more than $8 million.

Hours at the sites vary, opening as early as 7 a.m. and closing as late as 9 p.m. Only the Castro, SoMa, and the Tenderloin neighborhoods have any 24-hour locations.