Late-night comedians skewered the city. Residents dubbed the saga “Toiletgate,” and the $1.7 million toilet soon became the “it” costume at local Halloween parties that year.
For many residents, the episode has illustrated why San Francisco so often gets bogged down by inefficiency. If an army of more than 30,000 city employees with a $14 billion annual budget cannot build a simple bathroom in a reasonable way, what hope is there that San Francisco can solve its housing shortage and fentanyl crisis?
“Why isn’t there a toilet here? I just don’t get it. Nobody does,” Ted Weinstein, a literary agent who lives in Noe Valley and passes by the Town Square daily, said on a recent weekday. “It’s yet another example of the city that can’t.”
Noe Valley neighbors had been pleading for a public toilet in the town square since it was converted from a parking lot in 2016. The makeover included plumbing for a bathroom, but no actual bathroom because money ran out. Children enjoying the playground and adults chatting over coffee at bright red tables have simply had to hold it.