City officials in San Francisco say it’s a necessary job: port-a-potty attendant.
Chronicle columnists Matier and Ross dubbed them "potty-sitters" since they try to ensure that the units are used solely for their intended purposes.
The workers are paid up to $16 an hour to patrol the city's public toilets. The city is reportedly spending $1 million a year to employ two dozen or so workers as part of the Public Works' "Pit Stop" program, which provides mobile toilets in the Tenderloin, SoMa, Castro, and Mission.
Each toilet is monitored by an attendant. Veneita Walker says when she was homeless she often didn’t have access to a restroom. Now, for $15 an hour, her job is to clean and watch for suspicious activity.
“I’m proud of my job, good at what I do,” Walker said. She says she is working for a paycheck to keep a roof over her head – and help keep the streets clean. “They know what they can and can’t do when I’m around.”
In a video posted to SFGate, mayoral candidate Stuart Schuffman claimed that San Francisco would need 500 public toilets that are open 24 hours a day in order to meet the bathroom needs of both homeless people and tourists wandering around town, but less than half of that number are open at limited Hours.
Schuffman said the city has only 200 public bathrooms "tucked away inside libraries, parks and civic buildings." Eighty-eight bathrooms aren't open past 6 p.m., and only 28 are open 24 hours a day.
Schuffman suggested the city should open up the hours of those 200 public bathrooms, invest in new ones and work to incentivize businesses to allow the public to use their restrooms in exchange for a benefit such as a tax break.
Rachel Gordon with the Public Works Department says, if funds allow, the city will continue to install more public bathrooms.
“The Tenderloin is a great example, that the number of steam-cleaning requests to clean up human waste has gone down in the areas where theses toilets are,” Gordon said.