walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Wasting Time on the Internet: human poop in SF edition

I'm over at Gawker, and I run across this.


And I start to go, you know, there are some problems with this analysis. (And now the word analysis looks funny to me. Never mind.)

Here is some more coverage of the problem.


What is this, an annual thing, where people write articles about poop in SF?

Let me list the problems with the, er, analysis.

"While tourists and shoppers can sneak into a hotel or store and use the bathroom many people who don't have access to a bathroom during the day "get turned away because they are poor, and they are black," Friedenbach said. "Human beings do not want to defect or urinate in public. It is not natural and they do so out of desperation because they have no where else to go.""

Access is unlikely to be a complete explanation. If access to facilities were a complete explanation for why humans poop in inappropriate places and make Zero Effort to get it cleaned up, then I wouldn't have the Most Disgusting Story Ever to tell about my former neighbor (as in, I don't live there any more and she's dead anyway, but let's just say it had two components. Story #1 involved human poop left in the upstairs hallway of my condo building. Just for references purposes, the pooper's unit sold for north of $300K after she died. Why did she poop in the hall? Not clear -- maybe an accident, and if you're wondering, how does the poop get onto the floor, as opposed to smeared in one's clothes? Because she was walking around in an nightgown and robe and apparently there wasn't anything between her poop hole and the floor. Story #2 involved dog poop on the floor and _smeared on an elevator button_. For reference purposes, there is at least one person on an upper floor in this building how has to use the elevator to get in and out of the building. The rest of us could just take the stairs, but not her. Again? Why not cleaned up? "I had to get to a dentist appointment."). Humans poop in inappropriate places for a host of reasons that do not involve rational decision making.

Then I'll leave you with this beautiful paragraph:

"Worse off, the facilities that are open to the public are limited, even shackled by budgetary concerns. As Friedenbach told me, “When they started doing the mass layoffs of Parks and Recreation staff in 2009, the city couldn’t keep a lot of their public bathrooms open.” Suddenly, there were just a small number of overworked facilities located in the hardest-hit areas to pick up the slack and offer public restrooms and other amenities to our homeless population. “Anywhere you go in the world, westernized or not,” Friedenbach said, “you have enough public restrooms for the homeless, for tourists, for the general public. Not here, though. It’s pretty brutal.”"

I would like to assign Friedenbach the following task. Reconcile this recent scientific research:


With "Anywhere ... in the world ... you have enough public restrooms".


"Human beings do not want to defect or urinate in public."

Friedenbach is a nice person, I am sure, with a very important, laudable public goal (More Public Restrooms in SF). But Friedenbach is also an ignorant bigot, and shockingly bourgie.

ETA: Part of my fury and glee in calling Friedenbach names is because of LaConner's issues with providing a loo for its patrons, back in the 1980s. Most of it, tho, is because of the difficulty Seattle has been having with setting up public 'strooms in Pioneer Square and similar. They've spent millions of dollars trying, and mostly just come up with What Not to Do. Looks like they're taking another run at the problem. I hope they figure it out this time.


As for homeless people not being able to access 'strooms in stores, tell that to the various women who set up temporary residence in the Macy's women's rooms.

Also, if toilet facilities for all is such a solved problem outside SF, why is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation going after it as a problem.

Look, I am all over things like improved transportation infrastructure in Seattle and toilets in SF. Yay! Go for it. These are important things to work on. But activists who argue that these problems are not problems elsewhere, and Seattle and SF are so backwards compared to everywhere else just make themselves look like fools and potentially turn away those who might otherwise support them.

DIY solution in Seattle:


Again, someone who is convinced that in some other, magical place, this isn't a problem. Ha!
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.