Despite Poop Problem, Tenderloin Toilet a Hard Sell

A public toilet for the Tenderloin seems like it would solve problems, but isn't wholly supported.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Feces, feces, everywhere -- and nobody can agree how to clean it up.

     The San Francisco Department of Public Works's 7,500 calls for service last year for street "steam cleaning" -- a nice way to describe the method by which human waste is washed from the street. More than half those calls came from District 6, which includes South of Market and the Tenderloin, according to the San Francisco Examiner. So there's a definite defecation question, but how to solve it? The answer is far from, er, clear.

    Aside from who will pay for it, some fear the public toilets will become a magnet for crime and drug use.

    At the heart of the issue is the Tenderloin district, which is bereft of public toilets. The Tenderloin is also the recipient of many nonprofits and church groups who dispense free meals there daily. Once those meals are consumed, people need to use the bathroom. But there are no toilets available nearby, so the end result is all-too predictable. To service this basic human need, a community group wants to build a public toilet.

    A streetwise john with translucent walls, a living roof, and perhaps connected to projects like the Tenderloin National Forest is in the design stages, the newspaper reported. An Oakland-based design team, Hyphae Labs, received $20,000 from the North of Market Community Benefit District to design such a toilet.

    The translucent walls -- which would only reveal silhouettes of the bathroom users -- are one way the toilet's planners hope to deal with the problems of drug use and prostitution going on in the toilet, the newspaper reported. Another method would to be find funding to pay someone $25 an hour to monitor the toilets.

    Either way, a group of merchants and neighbors say they'd prefer to have people pooping in the street rather than offer a shelter that may be misused, the newspaper reported.

    “This doesn’t sound like something that folks working so hard to fix the Polk corridor would support,” Ron Case, chairman of the Lower Polk Neighbors group told the newspaper.