With the completion of a three-month pilot program that kept three public toilets in San Francisco open for 24 hours, Supervisor Matt Haney called on the city to keep all public bathrooms open all day long.
The pilot program, which began back in August, kept three Department of Public Works-run Pit Stop public toilets open throughout the night, seven days a week. Locations included Father Alfred E. Boeddeker Park, Sixth Street and Jessie, and Castro and Market streets.
During a rally at the Boeddeker Park location on Nov. 25, Haney and about a dozen of his supporters called on the city to keep all 25 Pit Stop toilets open 24 hours, seven days a week.
According to Haney, during the pilot program, the Boeddeker Park toilet, located at the corner of Jones and Eddy streets, was used more than 4,000 times between 11 p.m. and 7 p.m. Additionally, he said, there were no safety issues.
“The claim that this was going to be too dangerous, to have bathrooms open at night was not proven true at all,” he said.
“We spend tens of millions of dollars cleaning up our streets, after the fact in a reactive way. Why not just be proactive and give people access to bathrooms on the front end so that we can keep our streets clean,” he said.
“These are bathrooms that already exist, they’re already there yet we are closing them at 6 p.m., at 5 p.m. knowing that people need to use the bathroom after 6 p.m.,” he said. “This needs to be available for everyone.”
“Until we can find housing for everyone, we need to make this place livable for everyone. And that includes services like 24-7 restrooms. Because if we don’t provide it, we know what happens: human waste happens,” said David Elliott Lewis, a Tenderloin resident and volunteer with the Tenderloin People’s Congress.
“When the idea was thrown about, there were a few naysayers who said if we do this, the homeless people will come,” Lewis added. “But they’re already here and they’re actually being pushed out from other neighborhoods, so as long as they’re here and until we can provide housing for them, this is our best solution.”
Although the pilot program has ended, Haney said the city will keep the three same locations open 24 hours, seven days a week. But, Haney said, he’s like to see them all open.
“Let’s open them all. For a couple million dollars, we can address this issue of dirty streets, which we know is an embarrassment and getting worse, and we can also provide access to what is a basic need. It seems like a win-win and it’s common sense,” Haney said.