FEBRUARY | Public Relief
We live in one of the world’s great tourist destinations: San Francisco! If you’ve ever worked retail in this town, you know that one of the most common questions asked by visitors is “Do you have a rest room I can use?” San Francisco hasn’t quite sorted out its conflict between our love of public life and the need for the public to pee. We love our parks, cafes, critical mass, parklets and night markets…but everybody’s got to go sometime.
We also live in a city with a very visible homeless population. San Franciscans are rather polarized in their attitudes towards the homeless. The Venn diagram of tourism, resident, and homeless populations overlaps in the hotly contested topic of public restrooms and access to sanitation.
Other countries have pissoirs, cultures that expect public restrooms (with attendants and a fee) to be a part of public space, or maybe just looser attitudes about peeing on walls coupled with higher rainfall. The public convenience stations we DO have were either built in the 1930’s, or are Automatic Public Toilets (The SFDPW lists 25 currently operating) that often feel unsafe or the ‘self cleaning’ component is met with some skepticism.
What would your ideal future public bathroom or wash station for San Francisco’s wildly varied General Public look like? What future form could Public Relief take?
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