San Francisco finally opens its long-mocked $1.7 million public restroom in ‘Toilet Bowl’ ceremony

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By Ishita Srivastava For Dailymail.Com

21:43 23 Apr 2024, updated 23:33 23 Apr 2024

  • San Francisco’s long-awaited public restroom was installed over the weekend 
  • A toilet-themed celebration with about 100 people in attendance took place 
  • It has reportedly been built for much less than its original $1.7 million price tag 



The city of San Francisco has finally unveiled its much-anticipated public toilet with much fanfare and celebration, after it was severely mocked for its hefty price tag. 

Estimated to cost $1.7 million but eventually built for much less, the metal toilet was installed in the Noe Valley neighborhood on April 20. 

About 100 people came together in the Noe Valley Town Square to celebrate the unveiling by dressing up as the Mario Brothers (who are plumbers by profession) and had a live jazz band that renamed itself ‘American Standard’ for the day. 

Leslie Crawford, the event organizer of the toilet-themed party titled ‘Toilet Bowl’ was heard telling the crowd: ‘Noe Valley, let’s hear it for our “not-1.7-million-dollar-bathroom.”‘

The city of San Francisco has finally unveiled its much anticipated public toilet with much fanfare and celebration, after it was severely mocked for its hefty price tag
Estimated to cost $1.7 million but eventually built for much less, the metal toilet was installed in the Noe Valley neighborhood on April 20
About 100 people came together in the Noe Valley Town Square to celebrate the unveiling

Celebrators saw a group of acrobats juggled plungers and children circling a maypole clutching long strands of toilet paper. 

Talking about what inspired her to throw such a party, Crawford said: ‘When everybody laughs at you, you’ve got to take the power back and laugh at yourself. 

‘This whole thing got so ridiculous, so why not be ridiculous?’

Apart from the toilet, the public restroom also comes with a baby changing station.   

The installation comes three months after the public expressed outrage over the city’s government being unable to install the toilet after two years of delay. 

Celebrators saw a group of acrobats juggled plungers and children circling a maypole clutching long strands of toilet paper
Apart from the toilet, the public restroom also comes with a baby changing station

The city was forced to appeal to the private sector to finish the job, but the two men who have promised to get it built have been frustrated by the city’s lack of engagement and high building costs. 

Assemblyman Matt Haney had been planning for nearly a year to build the communal toilet in the Noe Valley Town Square in a 150-square-foot space after city officials said there was not enough funding to build a restroom when the square was constructed in 2016. 

So he secured funding from the Recreation and Parks Department, not questioning the $1.7 million price tag, which is nearly as high as what a single-family home in that area costs.

But the plans were met with outrage when the price was revealed by the San Francisco Chronicle in October of 2022, prompting Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom, who is also the former mayor of the city, threatened to block the funding

A planned public toilet in San Francisco that California Governor Gavin Newsom earmarked $1.7million in public funds for remains bogged down after more than two years of red tape and delays

Somewhat shockingly, Newsom returned the $1.7 million to the city after officials promised to build at least two toilets rather than one but they had made ‘little progress.’ 

‘Why isn’t there a toilet here? I just don’t get it. Nobody does,’ wondered local resident Ted Weinstein at the time. 

‘It’s yet another example of the city that can’t,’ he told the New York Times

Residents have also long complained about worsening potholes that the city has failed to fix. 

Meanwhile the city’s streets are overrun with homeless people who have turned parts of it into an open-air drug market and crime continues to spiral out of control. 

The lack of a bathroom is inconvenient because parents and their children often do enjoy the playground but have no way to relieve themselves. 

Excuses offered by local authorities include the high cost of building in the city, finding an architect and the process of getting the public’s opinion. 

Noe Valley Town Square has needed a bathroom since it was opened in 2016

Assemblyman Matt Haney has been planning for nearly a year to build the communal toilet in the Noe Valley Town Square in a 15 square foot space after city officials said there was not enough funding to build a restroom when the square was constructed in 2016

But the plans were met with outrage when the price was revealed by the San Francisco Chronicle in October of 2022, prompting Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom, who is also the former mayor of the city, threatened to block the funding

The city’s massive amounts of red tape require funds as well to employ people to make sure the toilet is ‘appropriate to its context in the urban environment.’

The Times claims that it can take an average of 523 days for a developer to get an initial thumbs up to build housing and an additional 605 days to get permits, totaling nearly four years. 

The private sector has tried their own way to get the toilet built at the park in the months following its initial failure, to no avail, despite Mayor London Breed’s vow to cut red tape.

Vaughn Buckley, CEO of Volumetric Building Companies, agreed to do the architecture and engineering prep work for free after the city reached out to him.

He and friend Chad Kaufman, who runs the Public Restroom Company and offered to donate a modular toilet, said they would pay local union workers themselves for installation. 

The city made an agreement with Volumetric in April of 2023 but Buckley claimed that talks had broken down with the Recreation and Parks Department in a December 22 letter where he cited both high costs to hire the workers and the city’s unwillingness to make a deal. 

San Francisco Parks & Rec was equally disappointed in a letter written to Buckley in December of 2023. 

‘Your team was unresponsive to our repeated attempts to engage,’ they wrote. 

‘We are receiving inquiries from citizens, journalists and local lawmakers on the status of this highly publicized project. We will need to answer questions.’

Vaughn Buckley, CEO of Volumetric Building Companies promised to do the architecture and engineering prep work for free but has faced challenges from the city

Private developers hope that the toilet can be finished in the town square by April but have been delayed by the city’s unwillingness to engage them

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has vowed to cut red tape like that faced by the toilet developers



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