San Francisco is spending $1.7 million on one public toilet

San Francisco is spending $1.7 million on one public toilet
From art installation by Cattelan to utility receptacle at Blenheim Palace, seat of the dukes of Marlborough. Appropriate THIS, folks. YouTube, Business Insider video

“San Francisco politicians will gather at the Noe Valley Town Square Wednesday afternoon to congratulate themselves for securing state money for a long-desired toilet in the northeast corner of the charming plaza….The toilet — just one loo in 150 square feet of space — is projected to cost $1.7 million, about the same as a single-family home in this wildly overpriced city. And it won’t be ready for use until 2025,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) secured the $1.7 million from the state for the toilet…the plaza [to host the toilet] was constructed six years ago, but there was never money for the actual bathroom,” the Chronicle says. “The cost to build anything in San Francisco is exorbitant. The city is the most expensive in the world to build in.” The process of building the toilet will be very slow:

An architect will draw plans for the bathroom that the city will share with the community for feedback. It will also head to the Arts Commission’s Civic Design Review committee comprised of two architects, a landscape architect and two other design professionals who, under city charter, “conduct a multi-phase review” of all city projects on public land — ranging from buildings to bathrooms to historic plaques, fences and lamps….The project will then head to the Rec and Park Commission and to the Board of Supervisors. According to the city’s statement, it will also be subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act. Then, the city will put the project up for bid.

“Once we start the project, we’ll have a clearer timeline, but we expect to be able to complete the project in 2025,” the statement read….

Other cities spend much less on public toilets, according to Tom Hardiman, executive director of the Modular Building Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia. When the Chronicle reporter asked Hardiman to guess what San Francisco was spending to build a single toilet occupying 150 square feet, he wrote back, “I’m going to guess high, I think, and say $200,000.”

The reporter says, “I seemed to nearly give him a heart attack by telling him the actual figure in a subsequent phone call. ‘This is to build one public restroom?’ Hardiman asked incredulously. ‘What are they making it out of — gold and fine Italian marble? It would be comical if it wasn’t so tragically flawed.’”

San Francisco overpays for almost everything. The city pays employees who scoop up poop from its streets $185,000 per year. But poop remains on the streets, which are far from clean. A huge medical convention pulled out of San Francisco, according to CBS affiliate KPIX. The organizers of the event said participants don’t feel safe on San Francisco’s streets.

Tourists once took home memories of famed cable cars. These days, too often it is of the image of someone begging, or dancing in circles, or just wandering around the streets intoxicated or mentally ill.

“You can smell it,” says one tourist.

“I come from a third world county and it is not as bad as this,” says another.

Those tourists may have been reacting to a stinky 20-pound bag of human excrement that someone left on the sidewalk in the city’s Tenderloin district. Or maybe the open-air urinal that the city installed in its Dolores Park in 2016 in the hopes of discouraging public urination on the streets.

But it’s not just the stench of human waste that is driving people away from San Francisco. The cost of living coupled with the city’s over-the-top-left-wing politics has resulted in an exodus of residents. 46% of San Francisco Bay Area residents said in 2018 that they want to leave.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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