Sex, Drugs and Public Restrooms

SF wants to clean up it's toilets, mainly to avoid becoming 'hoe-tels.'

By Mike Anderson
|  Monday, Apr 4, 2011  |  Updated 3:33 PM PDT
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Sex, Drugs and Public Restrooms

flickr.com/bwalsh

San Francisco's green toilets were meant to be a public service, but they are now hotspots for drug use and prostitution.

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San Francisco's public restrooms are so popular, they have become health hazards.

The 25 green toilets were meant to be a public service, but they are now hotspots for drug use and prostitution, the Public Press reports.

“We call these ‘hoe-tels,’” homeless man Jim Rokas said. “H-O-E-T-E-L. People use these for sex, shooting up, everything!”

Maintenance technician Peter Vongseni regularly needs to clean the restrooms even though they are supposedly self-cleaning. He said there is always someone doing something inside when he pulls up in his van.

“Today when I came there were some Chinese tourists trying to get in the bathroom, and there were three in there yelling at them to stop pushing the button.”

Drug needles and human excrement are not uncommon things to find in these restrooms. And although they are so bad that many homeless people refuse to use them, they aren't a completely bad thing for the city.

The advertising agency that installed the units back in 1996, JCDecaux, sells ad space on them. And San Francisco got a $507,000 cut of the profit last year alone.

Instead of tearing them all down, the city wants to clean up its act and is weighing a few options.

One involves installing blue lights in the restrooms to make it harder for drug users to find their own veins, a commom practice in Europe. Another option is to extend bathroom hours at soup kitchens to divert some traffic away.

Either way, it's clear something needs to be done -- even the normal toilet maintenance has apparently lagged.

“Every day it’s a huge mess,” Vongseni said. “There’s poop on the floor, poop on the wall.”

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