Supervisor Matt Haney vows to have public toilets open 24-hours

Proposal part of 10-point clean up plan in response to resident complaints

Supervisor Matt Haney committed Monday to opening staffed public restrooms in the Tenderloin and South of Market area for 24 hours — not just for the limited times they are currently open during the day — to reduce the amount of feces on the sidewalks.

Haney said he may even introduce legislation to require a 24-hour restroom program. He is also in discussions to have the funding to pay for the overnight toilets included in Mayor London Breed’s city budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which she will unveil on June 1.

The 24-hour restroom idea is part of a “10 Point Plan for a Clean and Healthy Downtown SF” Haney officially announced Monday at a rally near Boeddeker Park, at Eddy and Jones streets. He was joined by leaders of community benefit districts, like the Tenderloin Community Benefit District, which uses fees charged to area property owners to pay for services like street cleaning and other services.

“Sometimes people talk about San Francisco and they talk about the trash and the needles and the poop and they laugh about it. Sometimes it’s the butt of a joke,” Haney said. “But to the people who live in these communities, this is not funny. It is not funny to have the only place where somebody can use a bathroom to be on the sidewalk.”

The plan envisions 10 additional public toilets and five toilets open 24-hours with attendants around the clock. Currently, these staffed public bathrooms, called Pit Stops, remain open during a limited time each day. Only one is open until 10 p.m., while the others close at varying hours between 3 p.m and 8 p.m. The program uses both stationary JCDecaux toilets and mobile ones purchased by Public Works, which oversees the program.

The stationary toilet where Haney held his rally, for example, is staffed and open daily from 7am to 8pm.

Earlier this year, Breed had proposed using a small portion of the unexpected state funding The City received this fiscal year, known as Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, to expand the Pit Stop program, but the board voted to use the funds for other purposes.

Breed’s proposal would have added $1.5 million in funds to the existing program’s budget this fiscal year of $3.4 million that pays for 13 permanent locations, operating seven days per week, and 10 portable locations, operating five to six days per week. The increase woud have added “Pit Stop locations at Eddy and Larkin Streets and Taylor Street, and increase restroom staffing and monitoring,” according to the budget analyst report.

“We are looking to expand our Pit Stop program in this year’s budget, including what the mayor had originally proposed as part of ERAF,” Breed’s spokesperson Jeff Cretan said Monday.

Haney told the San Francisco Examiner that he “supported” Breed’s Pit Stop funding proposal but that it was not included in the “compromise” ERAF spending plan that the board’s Budget and Finance Committee approved and sent to the full board.

“[Budget chair Sandra] Fewer committed to me that she’d support an increase in street cleaning and Pit Stops in the full budget, and she’s aware it’s a top priority for me,” Haney said. He added that Breed’s ERAF funding was not for 24-hour bathrooms.

After the rally, Haney said he is open to initially launching a pilot program with one 24-hour staffed public bathroom in the Tenderloin and one in the SoMa, but he said would like to see his full plan in place by the end of next year.

It’s unclear what exactly the staffed, 24-hour public toilets will cost. City officials are discussing it.

Public Works director Rachel Gordon said that to staff stationary bathrooms costs The City $190,000; the mobile bathrooms cost $212,000 annually. For the mobile toilets there is a one-time cost to purchase them of $85,000.

But the costs would be higher for overnight bathrooms. It would take two staff members to oversee the toilets at night for safety reasons. Usually there is one attendant during the day.

“It costs us millions of dollars right now to respond to the situation on the street, which is broken. I think that we can get more effective use of our resources if we are preventative and proactive about providing people with places to use the bathroom,” Haney said.

He called bathroom access an issue of “human dignity, of human rights,” and said it is “unacceptable in a city as wealthy as San Francisco.”

Those who joined Haney for the rally included Gail Seagraves, a tenant organizer with the Central City SRO Collaborative, who has lived in the Tenderloin for the past 10 years.

“We live here. We should be able to walk down the street with our friends or family, not be embarrassed, not to step in poo,” she said, backing the 10-point plan.

Haney said the conditions of the neighborhood are “solvable.”

The 10-point plan follows through on a campaign promise of Haney’s, and he acknowledged the ideas were brought to him by residents.

The rest of the plan includes more public trash cans, increased street cleaning, more street art and increased access to dog poop compostable bags.

He also wants to figure out how to ensure residential and commercial trash cans put out on the sidewalk for pickup are better maintained, such as through locked cans or by working with Recology to reduce indoor service fees so the cans don’t have to be put out on the sidewalk.

And he wants more syringe disposal boxes to reduce needle litter, an addition of 30 on top of the 14 there now.