San Francisco

Open-Air San Francisco, ‘Pissoir,' Can Stay: Judge

A lawsuit filed by a religious group seeking the removal of an open-air urinal or "pissoir" recently installed at Dolores Park has been dismissed by a San Francisco Superior Court judge.

The decision, filed Sept. 30 by Judge Harold Kahn, dismisses the lawsuit filed in April on behalf of the San Francisco Chinese Christian Union by the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative nonprofit.

"The installation and maintenance of the pissoir does not contravene any of the constitutional provisions, statutes or common law rules cited by plaintiffs nor, even if it did, would there be any basis to issue the requested injunctive relief," Kahn wrote.

The lawsuit alleged the urinal, located near a J-Church light-rail stop on the edge of the park, violates laws regarding privacy, sex discrimination, public health, access for persons with a disability and the plumbing code.

One of the plaintiffs, Patrick Sullivan, is described in the lawsuit as living across the street, where he can see people using the pissoir from his kitchen window.

The pissoir was installed as part of an extensive $20.5 million renovation project at the 16-acre Dolores Park that was completed in January. The renovation project included new picnic areas, an off-leash dog park, a scenic overlook at 20th and Church streets, repairs to tennis, basketball and multi-use courts -- and the construction of new restroom facilities.

The pissoir was installed in response to neighborhood complaints about public urination by park goers in the area. The popular and heavily-used park now has 27 toilets in addition to the outdoor urinal, as compared to the four it had previously, according to Recreation and Park officials.

"We are grateful that the court rejected this meritless suit from right-wing groups, allowing San Francisco to continue to be innovative in addressing neighbors concerns about public urination in the area," said Andrea Guzman, a spokeswoman for the City Attorney's Office.

Pacific Justice Institute Chief Counsel Kevin Snider said they plan to appeal the decision.

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