The Pit Stop pilot program keeping public bathrooms around SoMa and the Tenderloin open 24 hours has been renewed and declared a success, but Mayor Breed and Sup. Matt Haney are now in a pissing match over who should get the credit.
Redundant hysteria about San Francisco’s poop problem has become quite the movement in national media coverage. But in reality, City Hall has squeezed out a few solutions that we can all get behind. The movable Pit Stop public bathrooms, complete with attendant “potty-sitters,” were introduced in 2014. In August of this year, three of these locations expanded their hours to provide 24/7 relief (at Sixth and Jessie Streets in SoMa, Eddy and Jones Streets in the Tenderloin, plus the Market and Castro location). That pilot program will continue, as the Chronicle reports that the 24-hour bathrooms will keep their round-the-clock service for, well, at least one more budget year.
For her part, Mayor Breed is saying that she’s the whiz who deserves the credit for a decrease in steam-cleaning requests at the three 24-hour loos. “When people have access to a clean, safe restroom, they will use it,” Breed said in a statement reported by KPIX. “We have seen what happens on our streets when people don’t have a place to go, which is why I fought to include funding in the budget for seven new Pit Stops, and well as expanded hours at existing locations.”
But a careful read of Breed’s press release reveals that this expansion is just a continuation of the status quo; no new locations are getting 24-hour service. The release does announce “expanded hours at existing locations,” but makes no mention of which locations these are, nor what the expanded hours would be.
District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney meanwhile is becoming the number one driving force behind making all Pit Stops citywide 24-hour facilities. Curbed reports that Haney held a rally Monday in front of the Tenderloin’s Boeddeker Park public bathroom, and pushed for all Pit Stops to be open all night. Haney purports to be responsible for the 24-hour pilot program, and two-thirds of the money came from his district budget (and that makes sense, because two of the three 24-hour locations are in his district).
There are seven new Pit Stops in Breed’s budget this year, though we have not been told where they will be placed. Mayor Breed’s announcement noted that about 25 percent of flushes at the all-night locations were during those extended nighttime hours, and yes, these units do flush automatically after every use. They are far more high-tech than a standard porta-potty, and a completely acceptable washroom experience for anyone.
There are a number of other cool and commendable aspects to the Pit Stop program. Many of the attendants are formerly incarcerated people getting a new opportunity in life. And one of the mobile Pit Stops is designed to look like the Painted Ladies! You can find the location and hours of all 25 Pit Stops on the DPW website, and here’s a Google Map detailing each one’s location and hours.
Image: SF Public Works via Twitter