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The Story Of San Francisco’s Toilet Success


San Francisco’s heavily visited tourist areas such as Tenderloin have struggled with cleanliness and similar issues, just like such areas in other big US cities, but it seems that the people of San Fran have come up with the solution. The solution being solar-powered, mobile bathrooms which are guarded by special attendants and which are rolled in the neighborhood four afternoons every week.

The success has been so noticeable that cities as varied as Honolulu, NYC and Portland are inquiring about the practice, seeking solution to their own sanitary issues.

Supporters of the project claim that these mobile public bathrooms have made Tenderloin (previously notorious for poverty, homelessness and crime) a more livable and cleaner neighborhood. Jane Kim, one of the supervisors of the city of San Francisco has this to say about them:

“Everyone has to go to the bathroom, that’s not something anyone can stop. This program affords people some dignity to take care of a human need.”

Mobile toilets are brought in every Tuesday through Friday at 2 p.m., positioned cleverly around park areas and soup kitchens, and then hauled away at 9 p.m. in order to be cleaned. The toilets are fully stocked with air fresheners, toilet paper, soap, seat covers and paper towels.

The attendants who take care of the toilets work for a non-profit and they are contracted by the city to keep the toilets up and running.

One of the users of the new toilets, Kaven Harris says that before the introduction of these facilities, he was forced to do business between cars or in parking lots in general. He added:

“If this pit stop weren’t here, I would be in a parking lot. It is no place to use the bathroom if you’re homeless and don’t have money.”

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