San Francisco’s Plan For a $1.7 Million Toilet Is Being Flushed By Governor
It may not be the watershed moment he had in mind, but California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom, widely accused by critics of being an extravagant and irresponsible spender who’s never met a public program he didn’t like, has finally found a community project he won’t stand for — or sit, as the case may be.
Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, is threatening to stop the roll-out of a three-year plan to build a single public toilet for $1.7 million in the city’s Noe Valley Town Square. He said he could withhold funds altogether until the city settles on a more efficient way to use the money.
Known for its skyrocketing rents and large, burgeoning homeless population, the city has been roundly criticized for its poor record dealing with housing — a result in part of an expensive and cumbersome building approval process that ends up bogging down housing development.
“San Francisco stands alone as an example of what is an acutely concerning pattern of delays and denial,” Jason Elliott, senior counselor to Newsom, told the Chronicle in August, when Newsom launched a first-of-its-kind review of the San Francisco’s housing approval process.
Considering the city’s homelessness and housing-approval shortcomings, approval of the million-dollar toilet, reportedly a single loo within a total space of 150 square-feet, earned immediate scorn by residents in the Bay Area and beyond.
“A single, small bathroom should not cost $1.7 million,” Newsom spokesperson Erin Mellon told Fox News Digital over the weekend.. “The state will hold funding until San Francisco delivers a plan to use this public money more efficiently. If they cannot, we will go back to the legislature to revoke this appropriation.”
After details about the commode’s astronomical costs were leaked, there was a public outcry that prompted California Assemblyman Matt Haney to flush an event celebrating the new restroom facility.
In a story by the San Francisco Chronicle, which originally laid bare the toilet’s nearly-$2 million price tag, Haney asserted he had been in contact with Newsom’s office about the project amount.
“I support not spending the money — the cost is ridiculous, and it will take far too long,” Haney told the Chronicle. “Noe Valley should get a bathroom, but $1.7 million should pay for seven bathrooms, and it should happen much quicker… I fully support and agree with the governor here, and we’re going to work together to get this done cheaper and quicker and also send the message that San Francisco needs to fix its broken processes.”
The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department earlier this week tried to explain the toilet bill as due to high construction costs, along with the cost associated with project planning, drawing, permitting, reviewing, public outreach efforts and construction management.”
“We estimate high—not because we want to spend more money, but because we want to ensure we can deliver projects to communities even if we are hit with unexpected costs,” a spokesperson for the parks department said to Fox News Digital.
In a story about the San Francisco toilet controversy, the Cowboy State Daily reported that when the Gillette City Council in Wyoming voted in 2016 to build a public restroom in that city’s downtown, the total cost was $222,582 for that project, which included a 520-square-foot heated restroom area with three toilet stalls each in the men’s and women’s sides and a repaved parking lot.