Speaking of real estate overlooking Dolores Park, the San Francisco Chinese Christian Union has filed suit against the City and County of San Francisco demanding the removal of the park’s newly-constructed “pPod” pissoir, the plans for which we first reported back in 2013.

According to the civil suit filed in San Francisco Superior Court, the pissoir is an indecent and illegal public nuisance, which is “offensive to the senses,” “grossly unseemly,” and “offensive to manners and morals.” Oh, and it’s not sufficiently accessible to the disabled, discriminates based on gender and allows for “unexpectedly being exposed to someone’s private parts.”

In the words of the spokesperson for San Francisco’s City Attorney’s office, which will actively defend the litigation: “If I had to predict the top 100 things in Dolores Park likely to offend these plaintiffs,” such as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s annual Hunky Jesus contest and regular vendors of illicit edibles and alcohol, “I wouldn’t have guessed that this would make the cut.”

That being said, a neighbor who lives across the street from Dolores Park and has a clear view of persons using the pissoir from his kitchen window is a named plantiff as well, alleging that the presence of the pissoir has negatively impacted the value of his home.

101 thoughts on “Conservative Group Pissed, Sues to Eliminate Dolores Park Pissoir”
  1. Ironically, this story is connected to the one just below it. While peeing, you can view the $6.5 million Light House condo across the park. It will provide inspiration and something to aim for.

    1. Really? I think it’s disgusting and offensive, and I certainly wouldn’t want to have it smack dab in the field of view from my kitchen or living room – would you?

      1. Whoa! really?

        While the design could perhaps be better and offer more discretion, these are seen and used in a number of large European cities. Not a big deal there.

      2. it is better than what was before — people pissing in the bushes all over the place. At least with this design, all you see is their back. you *know* what they are doing, but you don’t see the details. With random bush use, it was more open. If the plaintifs have lived there for a while, they might have had plenty of opportunity to see such behavior in prior years. I wouldn’t mind seeing someones back as they peeed. much better than smelling it and stepping in it all the time.

        1. Another example of outsiders moving to, and subsequently destroying, the fabric of this city. The ‘live in the country’ argument is a lazy attempt at dismissing any sense of decency and civic pride. Just because you moved here from BFE doesn’t mean people who don’t want to watch you pee should move to your old spot back in BFE. We were here first and we don’t want to lower ourselves to your standards.

          1. Exactly. This is least-common-denominator thinking – situation ‘A’ is horrible, so any improvement to situation ‘A2’ should be accepted with open arms.

            The whole line of reasoning by the commentariat here is bizarre – by their logic, I should be thrilled if the City started handing out chamber pots to the homeless, because it’s better for the homeless to use a chamber pot than to crap in the gutter. Though true, that does not in any way mean that the public use of a chamber pot should be legitimized or accepted.

          2. Wow.

            If the old timers are that…hypersensitive, than maybe the newcomers represent an improvement?

          3. Decency? How is solving an ongoing public urination problem by (drum roll) providing an available alternative indecent? It is just because you don’t want to have to think about people and their icky bodily functions?

            News flash: people have to urinate. If facilities aren’t available, some people will find another, far less desirable solution. This was fundable and buildable, and people (probably most people) will get used to it.

          4. Um, uhhhh…. I dunno… maybe they could build larger restrooms all genders can use discreetly; build a better, more discreet pissoir or relocate this thing to a place more suitable (i.e., not on a muni line or withing residential view)?

  2. Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the court actually entertained the gender and accessibility issues they raised.

    1. It would be awesome if a disabled advocacy group dissented with the conservatives saying “we don’t see a big problem here and if anything it keeps the lines shorter at the ADA men’s room”.

      1. Except the City doesn’t really provide an ADA men’s room. Hmmm. There is the rub. Maybe the City should provide decent restrooms for everybody. It’s not like one of the richest cities in the country can’t afford it.

  3. I would have thought that either a disabled or gender equality group would have lead the opposition. A conservative group is a surprise. Really like the DA’s response. A+

  4. I’m surprised the pissoir is so open, to be honest. It’s basically just a wall, where I have seen plenty in Europe that are more enclosed.

  5. I have no argument with a pissoir. I wish we had many. I find this particular pissoir laughably inept. I don’t know WHAT the designers were thinking. It’s not like they didn’t have plenty of great models in Amsterdam and other locations that provide a modicum of dignity for both the pisser and the passerby.

    1. They appear to have been thinking that they needed to expose it enough that people wouldn’t use it for sex. Alternate theory, they’re related to the company that would provide replacement parts once rust sets in.

      1. I’m assuming the same BobN….desire not to create a space that is in any way “enclosed” for sex or drug use/dealing, etc. However the single person pissoirs in Europe do a fine job of giving you more privacy without creating room for other activities. This one is ridiculously open. Why build it with mesh and then put a temporary fabric shield?

        1. It really is bizarre. It reminds me of something a pie-in-the-sky architectural design competition would come up with.

        2. The more I look at it, the more odd it seems. The fabric on the mesh is so small, you have to stand up close or people can spy your privates from the side. Then there’s the issue of where do you actually pee? Unto the floor so you splash your shoes? Onto the fabric, so the pee runs down off the fabric onto the wall and splashes you?

          P.S. My questions are entirely hypothetical as there’s no way I could use this thing. I’m shy…

    2. I agree completely. Ugly. Looks like a piece of copier paper stapled to chicken wire. A complete lack of style. I can’t see how this thing looked any better on an architectural drawing. What person ultimately approved the design (not the function and need for the thing)? Was it set up to fail from the first?

      A pisser can’t expect complete privacy but how about a little dignity? There was no thought put into this thing.

      Men are the new least favorite group in today’s culture. This pissoir has a sort of “take this and you’d better like it!” feel to it.

      If it was for females, I can’t imagine the design would be put forth where the users had to back up to a piece of plastic stuck to one side of a cage while the user looked eye to eye with MUNI riders. “Hey, everybody! I’m taking a wee wee over a hole in a concrete slab and you’re sitting on the J Church, dumfounded.”

      1. If some men do bad things, like peeing on walls, it’s OK to give all men a rude little cage in which to perform the basic, inevitable function of urination. That oughta show’em!

        “Well, you know, Youngman, sometimes it’s not enough merely to teach. One has to punish as well. A little bit of the old pause.” (Sir Guy Grand KG, KC, CBE)

        1. I was replying as to why a pissoir was built in the park. I certainly was not trying to defend this pissoir or its exact location.

  6. they’re Chinese, they’re Christian, they’re not at all a conservative political group, that notion reflects the editor’s prejudices.

    1. Actually, that notion came by way of the City Attorney’s office. And we quote, “Local religious conservatives – represented by a legal foundation that the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as an “anti-LGBT hate group” – are among the plaintiffs.”

      Regardless, we’d still characterize the group’s position as being conservative in nature, which isn’t a judgement call per se. And The aforementioned foundation is the Pacific Justice Institute.

      1. The point, of course, is that “Church Group Pissed…” would have been an objective description, and likely just as successful in attracting attention; the plaintiff’s motives and/or the merits of their arguments can readily be judged by readers …w/o assistance.

  7. just wait until CA starts rationing water — then we’ll all be dying for these. the design could certainly be far better, though.

    the ADA arguments might go far, but there’s an accessible route to the nearest ADA toilets so hopefully it’ll stand as compliant. the gender discrimination arguments would be null if the design allowed for a little more privacy, and perhaps a little single-occupancy door.

  8. I don’t mind this concept, but they sure located this in a stupid spot – right on the J-line and across from a row of houses. I’d be a little pissed if I lived across from this (see what I did there?).

    I’d give the lawsuit better than even odds to succeed on the ADA and gender discrimination claims. The city attorney has to defend it (that is his job), and the city attorney takes positions, and spends money, on all sorts of things that I would place way, way down on the list of priorities. So the office’s comments on this suit should be taken with a grain of salt.

  9. it is an incredibly stupid design and placement….as someone has already stated, there are scores of models in many cities in Europe.

    This dumb thing is placed in a very busy corner of Dolores Park, with no privacy for person using it or people just walking by…oh! I forgot to mention, whilst you are peeing a J Church train can whiz by and a trainload of muni passengers can watch you whiz! What fun!

    Are these planners the same idiots at the SFMTA?

    1. “Are these planners the same idiots at the SFMTA?” Yep. Very probably the same idiots. Our City staff seem to think they can do no wrong. They have a group think mentality that would make an ivy league frat blush.

  10. From the picture, I would guess that the design calls for the mesh to be overgrown with ivy, providing more shielding for all concerned and better blending with the surroundings. Fellas, can you just hold it in for a couple of years…

  11. There were lots of places in the park they could have put this. Why right next to the J boarding area?

  12. they could at least make this a little more private, like the original plans. a mesh fence is not exactly a good cover. But i would prefer the city actually go after the homeless peeing and pooping everywhere, and think the church should sue the city for that

  13. At least create a wall around it so you can have some privacy, has anybody in city government left the city limits to see how other cities actually get things done? This set up is tra-shee

  14. So what are the women/girls supposed to do? Just drop their panties and squat? Um, yeah, the gender discrimination ought to be enough to win. And the ADA argument is just a drop in the bucket. Stupid design and an even more stupid idea in the first place. We do not need to emulate Europe or any other country in this way. Disgusting.

    1. Women and the handicapped can use the bathrooms that are already available to them in the park bathrooms.

        1. But now the restrooms will be cleaner and the lines shorter. So it’s a win-win.

          Oh, right, that wasn’t your point. You just wanted to be offended by something. Carry on then.

  15. The two things that are the most infuriating about this are that this stupid thing cost $15,000 (seriously), and – unless the city caves quickly on this lawsuit (doubtful) – we’ll have to pay this right-wing nutjob legal group another $50,000+ when they win this lawsuit. Your tax dollars at work.

    1. This is probably just a cheap trial balloon to see if a pissoir will even fly in SF. I’m sure the city is prepared to replace it with a bespoke designer unit that will cost $200K. My money is on Belle Epoch meets Dwell meets Steampunk fashioned out of corrosion and vandalism resistant steel.

      One of the most elegant units I’ve ever seen was constructed of a single sheet of steel bent into kind of an “S” shape, providing 2 nooks for whizzing. It was positioned on the park strip between the sidewalk and street.

      1. See my comment about the trial balloon above ^^^

        If the idea of a pissoir doesn’t fly and the city tears it out then not much money lost.

  16. Is there a sign or anything designating its use? If I weren’t already aware of it, I don’t know if I would realize what it’s for.

  17. It doesn’t bother me although the design is pretty inept. Hope that the “anti”s in this case are not also the “build-it-higher and damn everyone else” brigade. A pleasant ground-level environment matters and folks are entitled to oppose monstrous towers or, in this case, an open toilet.

  18. Just plain dumb. This is the natural devolution from the Parklet concept. Wait till it surfaces how much money was paid for this… We can do so much better.

    1. Exactly. It’s sad to see the standards in this city declining so rapidly. These are the symptoms of a city that has lost its culture for the sake of real estate profits. The locals have been pushed out and now only those of us who have above average incomes (or rent controlled apartments) remain and we’ve been joined by a vast crop of suburbanites who have no urban etiquette and no sense of civic pride, so this is what we end up with. I wrote off Deloris Park about 5 or 6 years ago, so this won’t directly affect me. However, this mentality is spreading all over the city with the new locals increasingly pandering to the homeless, making muni unbearable (backpacks during rush hour?), standing on the left side of escalators and walking on the left side of a busy sidewalk (even around corners). Pretty soon, everything these people moved here for will be gone, ironically, due to their very existence. Let’s hope a nice economic bubble sorts this all out before the newbs have their way and the city turns into Los Angeles or Dallas.

      1. So much animosity packed in one little paragraph. Yes, to a certain degree SF has changed over the past couple decades. Many cities can say the same (Portland, Austin, Seattle, DC, etc.). Heck, even NYC has “lost its culture” with the influx of new people whose only mission is to ruin the status quo. (Gentrification of the East Village? No way!)

        Your complaints are really over the top. Have you ever stopped to politely ask someone on the left side of the escalator to move? I have. 9 times out of 10 it works.

        1. the backpack thing is kind of on point though. earbuds on, in their own worlds, no concept that their personal space’s diameter has just about doubled, whacking into you, saying nothing … that doesn’t happen to you at the local bodega fairly often?

          1. This has been going on since earbuds and backpacks were invented, and far before anyone in SF called a corner store a bodega.

      2. dolores park has been a location ive also avoided for past 10 yrs. went from nice city park to crowded party zone

  19. Really folks, haven’t you ever been to Europe? European cities have pissoirs for a reason. Documentation of men pissing in public has been a problem at least since the Roman Empire. Then in the 15th c, Leonardo proposed the spiral staircase so there would not be corners on stairways to piss in.

    Guys have been pissing in this location in Dolores park for decades. While this particular design is lame, it beats guys pissing on the landscaping with no visual barrier at all. Nearby Oakwood Street, where there is a house for sale for $9m, is a favorite place to piss between the cars for students from Mission High.

    You can moralize about the evils of public pissing, or you can try and provide places such as this where the problem exists.

    1. It’s not that black and white.

      A pissoir, or two, or three, in Dolores Park is probably a good idea. This particular design, if indeed you can call it a design, in this particular location, is clearly not.

      I lived in Amsterdam and used pissoirs there many times. They provide a modicum of privacy but are not large enough or private enough to become sex spots. This “SF model” has zero privacy (I wouldn’t use it in a million years) and also, apparently, offends neighbors. I think the problem is the implementation, not the idea.

    2. Or – you can provide a real public bathroom with walls and indoor plumbing. Another great invention of the Roman Empire our enlightened sanitation engineers have yet to master….

  20. The big irony with these pissoirs and their relationship with Europe.

    Paris had many of these pissoirs (aka vespasiennes) up to the 80s. I believe I have seen my last public pissoir in 1985 in Paris, but I could be wrong. The issues with these in the 70s was people complaining they became meeting places for the gays (the vespasiennes were basically donut shaped allowing a lot of privacy). Another issue was hygiene, and what do you do for #2.

    The solution was found in the excellent “Sanisette” from Jean-Claude Decaux, which was repackaged for San Francisco as the automated toilet we see dotting the city here and there. There were kinks. A few people tried to sleep there during the automatic nightly deep cleaning cycle and were crushed. The price was a deterrent and they finally made them 100% free.

    The irony is that automated toilets came to SF a while ago, and now SF wants to go for the older (and much cheaper) design that the French gave up on…

  21. I used to run that path daily. The urine and feces odors were intense all along the Western edge of the park. IMO, they need a few more of those and one or two that accommodate #2.

    1. They’re called restrooms and, as pointed out by San Fronzischeme, they’re preferable to pissoirs for a number of reasons.

  22. It’s just a matter of time before someone using the facility will do something obscene to someone waiting at the J train platform or walking along the path.

  23. “an indecent and illegal public nuisance, which is “offensive to the senses,” “grossly unseemly,” and “offensive to manners and morals.” Oh, and it’s not sufficiently accessible to the disabled, discriminates based on gender…”

    The food here is terrible, and the portions are so small.

  24. I would rather have an Amsterdam style pissoir on every corner than to have to keep on washing down the front steps and garage door every other day because the fools are using the front of the building for that purpose…

  25. Get over it! Men need to piss and always will. When i take my boys to the park its nice to know we have a place to go when needed. We should have more of them across the city. In regards to decreasing real estate values; i doubt property owners are complaining its just those winy tenants again who are never happen with anything.

    1. I hate to use a NIMBY staple, but you would be pretty upset if this was outside of your house. This just seems like an exceedingly bad idea that wasn’t thought out. A port-a-potty would have been better.

  26. Women and girls need to piss too. I have two daughters. They can’t use this thing, and the city did not build an extra bathroom they could use like this extra one for men and boys.

    People in wheelchairs need to piss too. They also can’t use this, and the city did not build an extra place for them like it did for men and boys who can walk.

    Hence, my read that this lawsuit will likely succeed (only chance I see is a procedural issue, such as removing the case to federal court and then challenging the plaintiffs’ standing).

    There is a new, enclosed bathroom in the park your boys can use. So they will still have a place to go when needed.

    1. They built a brand new men’s bathroom in the park, and if I recall, it has onlythree urinals and two stalls. What a pathetic wasted opportunity.

          1. I have. She doesn’t think it’s extra because the ladies have more toilets. Kind of wondering why anyone would. Now, I get the people across the street not wanting to look at this. Or people on trains. Those arguments make sense. But your “extra” argument makes no sense.

          2. Not that complicated. A man finds himself at 20th and Church and has to go. He can just step in and use this pissoir. Or, if he prefers, he can hike a block and a half across the grass and use the Dolores Park restroom. A woman finds herself at 20th and Church and has to go. She only has the latter, less convenient option. The city did not provide this extra, closer option for her.

            Same goes for a person in a wheelchair.

            Both state and federal law prohibits that.

          3. also, the ladies can hike 50 yards from where this is located to the south side restroom

          4. Really more just simple arithmetic than physics. The civil rights laws don’t allow a government to provide an extra bathroom facility that is only for men.

          5. can you cite the law you refer to so that I can see what it is you’re arguing? because I’ve made a counter argument regarding the word extra, and you merely repeated your first take.

          6. I think, in the name of toilet equality, the City should start subsidizing late-evening beer drinking for women so this whole pissing contest is more balanced.

          7. Also, I will not rest until every ladies’ room has as many urinals as the men’s room.

            Oh, and NO MORE COUCHES for women in their toilets. Let’s take the “rest” out of restroom!

  27. UPDATE: The court has ruled against the plaintiffs.

    From the ruling: “The installation and maintenance of the pissoir does not contravene any of the constitutional provisions, statutes or common law rules cited by plaintiffs nor, even if it did, would there be any basis to issue the requested injunctive relief.”

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