I must have said this a thousand times: Seattle needs more public restrooms. We have them in some of our parks. Why not Downtown?
Yes, I am well aware that we have “tried this before”. We should try it again and look south to San Francisco for a successful model.
The City of San Francisco placed its Pit Stops (public toilets, sinks, needle receptacles, and dog waste stations) in thirteen neighborhoods around their city where they are most needed. The “need” was based on locations where San Francisco Public Works repeatedly had to clean up human waste and steam clean the sidewalks.
San Francisco uses both portable toilets, which are serviced off site and trucked to and from the sites every day, and the semi-permanent self-cleaning toilets like that pictured below. The restrooms provide an alternative to using our streets and sidewalks as a toilet. What a concept!
Their program is funded by San Francisco Public Works, the equivalent of our Seattle Public Utilities.
These toilets are staffed during their open hours (generally 9am – 8pm,) assuring the toilets are clean and used for their intended purposes. Two non-profits provide paid staffing, and the position is offered as a jail re-entry program, giving the person both a job and an updated resume.
The toilets are used nearly 20,000 times per month and since the program began in 2014, the usage has steadily increased. There has even been a reduction in steam cleaning requests from the City’s businesses and residents.
What makes this program successful for San Francisco?
- Paid staffed are at each toilet to ensure proper use and cleanliness
- The toilets are cleaned and serviced daily
- The toilets are placed in numerous locations around San Francisco (based on need)
Access to a restroom is essential for all of us. Who doesn’t need to find a place to go multiple times a day? Those of us who have clean clothes and some money in our pocket can readily find a restroom around our city. Those of us who don’t, need a Pit Stop.
Just ask our Parks, MID and Public Utilities workers, or someone sleeping underneath the Viaduct. They can tell you where the public toilets should be located.
Let’s follow San Francisco’s lead. Not only will we be providing a humane service to city residents and visitors, but we will also
address and mitigate the ongoing health and safety concerns arising from peeing and pooping in public. I know our police and city attorney have better things to do than issue civil citations for what flows naturally.