Today marks the two-month anniversary of SoMa's very first Pit Stop toilet, located at 6th and Jessie streets. Launched by San Francisco Public Works on April 22nd of this year, the Pit Stop offers two portable toilets, sinks, used needle receptacle, and dog waste stations. And thus far, SoMa's only mobile toilet program is looking like a success.
SoMa's Pit Stop is available Tuesday through Friday, from 2pm to 9pm. The solar-powered mobile Pit Stops are trucked in daily and are staffed by the San Francisco Clean City Coalition, a nonprofit established in 1991 with the goal of "cleaning, greening and beautifying" San Francisco.
But keeping the city clean and beautiful is not the sole goal of Clean City: the organization also works to provide job training and experience for homeless and formerly-incarcerated individuals. Pit Stop attendants are often people who are getting back on their feet, and they not only monitor the bathroom, but also sweep the blocks near Pit Stops and work to keep them clean.
The presence of the toilets in and of itself has helped clean up streets. In the Tenderloin, requests for power-washing the streets to remove human waste have dropped 60 percent, according to Jane Kim's office, which also reports that 600 gallons of water are being saved in the Tenderloin every month. In this way, Pit Stops are also helping San Francisco preserve water during a drought.
According to Rachel Gordon from San Francisco Public Works, approximately 30-40 people use the SoMa location daily. Data is still being gathered on how SoMa's Pit Stops are performing, but as Rachel Gordon tells us, "So far the results have been good. Usage continues to go up, neighborhood livability is improved due to less human waste on the sidewalks and in doorways, and people without easy access to a bathroom now have clean and safe bathrooms, allowing them to relieve themselves with dignity."
A new budget proposed by Mayor Ed Lee (which is currently under review) would include funding to continue the current Pit Stops in SoMa, the Tenderloin, and the Mission, as well as to add two more locations. The locations for the two future Pit Stops are still being decided, but San Francisco Public Works is planning to put one in the Haight, and perhaps add one more in the Tenderloin. A third Pit Stop may be installed in the Mission with support from BART.
At the moment, there are no plans to install further Pit Stops in SoMa, which means the two toilets at Jessie and Sixth Streets are it for now. Where else in the city would you like to see Pit Stop toilets installed?