Relief as San Francisco public toilet finally opens – and not for $1.7m after all

Autor: Dani Anguiano

San Francisco made international headlines in 2022 when news broke that a project to build a public restroom in a town square would cost $1.7m. This weekend the toilet affair finally came to an end as the city celebrated its newest lavatory.

Residents gathered for a toilet-themed party in the Noe Valley town square on Sunday that was designed to poke fun at the whole saga and celebrate the long-awaited bathroom, which ended up costing far less than the initial price tag.

A band called American Standard (after the toilet company) performed, kids wearing toilet paper played and attendees took part in a number of toilet-themed games.

“Noe Valley, let’s hear it for our not $1.7m bathroom,” Leslie Crawford, an event organizer, said to cheers in footage from CBS San Francisco.

The celebration marked a jubilant end to the battle over the toilet, which began in 2022 when the San Francisco Chronicle reported the staggering cost of the project. The city had argued the price tag was “consistent with the inflationary pressures on all San Francisco public works projects”, and said the cost of “materials and skilled labor” had risen 23.2% since the start of the pandemic.

San Francisco is the most expensive city in the world to build in, in part because multiple departments must approve construction, the city’s recreation and parks department has said.

Visitors to the area had long requested a toilet, but the $1.7m price tag caused outrage. For some it was yet another example of government waste and a city incapable of reasonably meeting its residents’ most basic needs. It even prompted the California governor’s office to weigh in.

“A single, small bathroom should not cost $1.7m,” a spokesperson for Gavin Newsom told the Chronicle. The office threatened to withhold the state funding allocated for the project until the city offered a plan to use it more efficiently.

But after much backlash and mockery, a private company offered to donate a modular bathroom while another covered the architecture and engineering work for the project, the New York Times reported.

The price tag for the new 50 sq ft restroom came in at about $200,000, mostly in labor costs.

On Sunday, residents celebrated the new restroom at the “toilet bowl” event. People tested it out while offering plenty of puns. “I’m flush with excitement,” one person told CBS San Francisco.

“When everybody laughs at you, you gotta take the power back and laugh at yourself,” Crawford told the outlet.

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