The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has agreed to allow park officials to accept funds and in-kind donations that significantly reduce the costs of a public restroom project at Noe Valley Town Square.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation awarded the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department $1.7 million for the restroom project and future projects in other open spaces. The funds are set to be used from July 2022 to June 2026.
The custom-designed restroom previously garnered controversy after its initial estimated cost was $1.7 million over its two-year construction timeline. The high costs prompted the community to seek out state funding resources.
In January, donation of a prefabricated modular unit and labor work worth $425,000 from the Public Restroom Company and Volumetric Building Companies brought down projected costs to $725,000.
Park officials intend to use $300,000 of the awarded grant money towards the Noe Valley project, and the remaining funds for a restroom project in Precita Park and other future restroom projects.
The gifted modular unit and labor work brought the Noe Valley’s project cost down to $725,000.
“I will vote yes to accept this grant because I know the toilets are needed, but we have to do better. Residents have lost their patience.”Supervisor Joel Engardio
Park officials said the donations will save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars and shorten the construction timeline.
Noe Valley Town Square was opened to the public in 2016, and is frequently used for community events like a weekly farmers market and class programs for residents. A restroom was initially planned at the site, though a funding shortage prevented it from being constructed.
Supervisor Joel Engardio said he fully supports building public toilets at city parks, but the controversy surrounding this particular project should be a “reality check” that the city needs to reduce construction costs and policy barriers.
“I will vote yes to accept this grant because I know the toilets are needed, but we have to do better,” Engardio said. “Residents have lost their patience.”
Supervisor Hillary Ronen said the “never-ending saga” of trying to install public amenities in the city “makes you want to pull your hair out” — often there is no infrastructure in place to install a bathroom, like a water main, so it is a greater production than what might meet the eye.
“The residents around the park will be grateful because what ends up happening is park users use their front homes as places to urinate and it’s incredibly disgusting and frustrating for the residents,” Ronan said. “This is long overdue.”