San Francisco spends $1.7 MILLION on single public toilet that won’t be ready until 2025

Oct 20, 2022 | Political News

Local officials canceled an event scheduled for Wednesday in San Francisco's Noe Valley Town Square to celebrate a single public toilet that will cost as much as $1.7 million to build and won't be completed until 2025. This after a San Francisco Chronicle columnist called out the “mind-boggling” and “maddening” details of the project.
California Assemblyman Matt Haney who secured the $1.7 million funding from the state to install the toilet, told the outlet that he now considers the price tag “inexplicable.”

Haney told the San Francisco Chronicle, “When Rec and Park first told us the number, it sounded shockingly high to me. I’m glad that Noe Valley will at some point get a bathroom, but it shouldn’t cost this much, and it shouldn’t take this long, and I’m angry about it. … It’s not something I want to celebrate right now.”

A spokesperson for the city’s Recreation and Parks Department told Fox News that the ridiculously high cost was due to “onerous demands and unpredictable costs levied by PG&E.”

Additionally, construction costs of not only materials but employees have skyrocketed 20 to 30 percent in the last two years. A spokesperson told the outlet, “It’s also important to note that public projects and their overall cost estimates don’t just reflect the price of erecting structures. They include the cost of planning, drawing, permits, reviews, public outreach, and construction management.”

San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world to build in. However, aside from inflation and supply chain issues, the San Francisco plaza already has plumbing and will need planning, permitting reviews, and public outreach.

According to the Chronicle, after an architect draws plans for the toilet, it will be presented to the public for feedback.

The Arts Commission’s Civic Design Review committee will then conduct a “multi-phase review” of the project to “ensures that each project’s design is appropriate to its context in the urban environment, and that structures of the highest design quality reflect their civic stature.”

The project will then be subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act before it is put out to bid and will be built by union workers who will “earn a living wage and benefits,” according to a joint statement from the Rec and Parks Department and the Department of Public Works. The departments added in the statement, “While this isn’t the cheapest way to build, it reflects San Francisco’s values.”

If the toilet is actually completed in 2025, and the cost is less than the $1.7 million price tag, and if so the remaining funds will be allocated towards maintenance and upgrades. 

Haney added that his constituents have been requesting a public toilet since 2016 when the town square opened. 

Feces on San Francisco's streets, in parks, and in other public areas have been a hot-button political topic and a source of national mockery for years. Last December, Democratic Mayor London Breed announced a new public health and safety initiative.

Breed said at the time of the announcement, “The challenges the cramped conditions, the nasty streets, and when I say nasty – full of feces and urine – that the Department of Public Works is cleaning every single day, but it comes back just a few hours later.”