San Francisco supervisors have agreed to accept $1.7 million in state money that was originally intended to pay for one public toilet, but will now pay for two toilets. The decision comes after considerable backlash over the projected cost of $1.7 million for a small, single stall toilet planned for the Noe Valley Town Square. Despite the unanimous vote, some supervisors are concerned that city bureaucrats have not addressed their tendency to inflate costs and wrap projects in pricey red tape. The donated modular toilet brought down the cost of the Noe Valley loo, but the city says toilet No. 2, planned for Precita Park in Bernal Heights, could still cost $1.4 million, consuming the rest of the state grant.
The commode kerfuffle began in October when Assembly Member Matt Haney planned a potty party in Noe Valley Town Square to announce winning a $1.7 million state grant to fund a long-sought small bathroom there. But when this column questioned how any toilet could cost as much as a single-family home with multiple bathrooms, Haney pulled the plug on his own event. And Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the outrage train, announcing he was putting the state funding on hold until San Francisco could prove it could build a toilet without flushing so much money down the drain.
The decision to accept the state money has been met with mixed reactions, with some supervisors expressing concern over the city’s tendency to inflate costs and others highlighting the urgent need for public toilets in San Francisco’s parks. The commode kerfuffle has also raised questions about the city’s contracting process and the effectiveness of ideological decisions that drive up costs. Despite these challenges, the decision to accept the state money will provide much-needed relief for park users who have been forced to urinate on neighbors’ front doorsteps due to the lack of public toilets.
Keywords: San Francisco, public toilets, state grant, Noe Valley Town Square, Precita Park, cost inflation, contracting process, ideological decisions.
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