coronavirus

SF Increases Number of Staffed 24-Hour Toilets in Response to Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

San Francisco Portable Toilets
Eric Risberg/AP

The city of San Francisco is increasing the number of staffed Pit Stop public toilets open at all hours in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday.

Eighteen already existing Pit Stop toilets will now operate 24-hours-a-day, bringing the total number of staffed 24-hour staffed Pit Stop toilets to 49, according to city officials.

"We have been pushing to open more staffed restrooms, including 24-hour facilities, in San Francisco, but this pandemic has really highlighted the urgent need for these facilities," Breed said in a statement.

"We're moving as quickly as possible to bring homeless residents into hotels and other alternative housing sites during this pandemic, but we face real challenges now that we are unable to bring new clients into shelters due to the need to social distance. People living on the street need available facilities, and the fact that they are staffed helps to ensure that they remain open and operating," she said.

The now 49 staffed Pit Stop locations bring the number of public toilets operating 24-hours a day to 67, according to city officials. The Department of Public Works manages the Pit Stop program.

"We are committed to providing this critical service that offers San Francisco's unhoused residents and others in need expanded access to staffed bathrooms that are clean and safe," DPW Acting Director Alaric Degrafinried said in a statement.

In a further effort to support people living on the streets during the pandemic, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance by Supervisor Matt Haney calling for the city to provide 100 hand washing stations and toilets, open to the public.

Additionally, the legislation would require the city keep all new restrooms open during the public health emergency open 24-hours a day.

"In a global pandemic, bathrooms and hand washing stations are obviously and absolutely essential. Since this crisis started, residents have demanded adequate access to hygiene and bathrooms. The city has been too slow to act. We need access to 24-hr bathrooms and hand washing stations in high needs areas, and we needed it months ago," Haney said.

"This emergency ordinance will make sure that this finally gets done, so that people can get the relief they need and help keep our city safe and healthy," he said.

Haney, whose district includes both the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, has been an advocate for public restrooms. Back in March, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Haney first introduced a resolution urging DPW for more bathroom access.

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