San Francisco's New Weapon on Public Urination: Open-Air Urinal

City will try almost anything
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 29, 2016 11:52 AM CST
San Francisco's New Weapon on Public Urination: Open-Air Urinal
Passengers who exited a San Francisco MUNI streetcar walk past an outdoor urinal across from Dolores Park in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.   (Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco's iconic Dolores Park is now home to the city's first open-air urinal, the latest move to combat public urination in the city. The concrete circular urinal is out in the open, though plants and a screen offer some privacy. The park once had just three toilets, which led many to relieve themselves in bushes and on buildings. "Honestly, we were ready to go pee anywhere," one San Francisco resident tells news station KNTV. "So any facility is better than none." The park now features 27 toilets, including the outdoor urinal, thanks to more than $20 million in renovations. Along with the urinal, attendants are staffing 10 public toilets to encourage people to use them. They clean and restock supplies and make sure people don't use drugs or sleep inside the restrooms.

San Francisco has a long, sometimes creative, history of dealing with public urination. In 2002, the city increased the possible fine for the crime up to $500, but that did little to deter it. Last summer, the city painted nearly 30 walls with a repellant paint that makes urine spray back on the offender. Solar-powered toilets roll through city streets several afternoons a week. And city crews have inspected 10,000 light posts to make sure they won't fall over from erosion. That comes after a three-story-tall light post corroded by a likely mix of human and dog urine, and weighed down by a large banner, toppled. "The more options we can give them to relieve themselves, the better for the parkgoers," says San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener of the Dolores Park renovations. (Read more San Francisco stories.)

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