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Pissed Off

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Just when you thought the denizens of City Hall couldn’t get any more ridiculous — now they’re outlawing bodily functions! Tony Hall’s (he’s a Supervisor) ordinance banning public urination and defecation passed without consideration as to exactly where homeless people are supposed to relieve themselves.

The number of public bathrooms remains the same — not enough. The high-tech “space toilets” remain largely un-useable, many of them constantly breaking down, and several of which have been ingeniously modified by homeless people into mini apartments.

Many merchants remain unreceptive to homeless people who want to use their restrooms. Some stores and restaurants require a purchase before allowing someone to use their bathroom, and some will even turn a person away because they are dirty, or a suspected drug user. There’s still the public library, which doesn’t allow “bathing” and “grooming,” but at least the toilets are available to those who need them.

The fact remains, however, that there are not enough bathrooms to accommodate all of The City’s homeless. And so what choice do we have, when the library is closed, or when we are turned away by Burger King?

This inhumane ordinance is another example of how homeless people are routinely denied their very humanity. Do these politicians really expect bodily functions to cease just because they’ve been outlawed? What’s next, a ban on breathing the same air as those who can afford overpriced housing? Outlawing piss and shit is not going to decrease the need. People still need to piss and shit, and unless there are more accessible bathrooms, they’re going to do it outdoors, in alleyways, on sidewalks, in parks.

The crime of relieving one’s self in public carries a fine of $50-$500 or 6 months in jail. So when faced with the need to urinate, we have a choice of either getting a ticket we can’t afford to pay, losing our freedom, or holding it in and risking serious injury. It boggles the mind how such an ordinance could pass without a public outcry on the impossibility of banning necessary bodily functions. But the fact remains that the majority of people prefer not to think about homeless people and their needs. They’re disgusted by seeing piss and shit on the streets, so they outlaw piss and shit without even thinking about where else we’re supposed to put it.

The following is a list of known homelessfriendly bathrooms in The City. Many are conveniently located near certain homeless encampments.

If you have had any problems with any of these bathrooms, or know of any others that are homeless-friendly, please contact: cowenconaghan@hotmail.com.

San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin @ Grove

Mission Branch Library
300 Bartlett St. @ 24th

Castro Branch Library
3555 16th St. near Market

Church & Market

Fulton & LaPlaya (Ocean Beach)

Ocean Beach public restrooms
Lincoln & Great Highway

San Francisco General Hospital
Emergency Room
1000 Potrero Avenue

Mission Neighborhood Resource Center
165 Capp Street, between 16th & 17th

Author: Street Sheet Editor

The STREET SHEET is the oldest continuously published street news paper in the United States. Organizationally, it is the public education and outreach tool of the Coalition on Homelessness. Every month, the STREET SHEET reaches 32,000 readers through over 200 homeless or low-income vendors. Our vendors are charged nothing for the papers they receive, and keep all money they earn through STREET SHEET distribution.

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