San Francisco officials have deployed more 24-hour bathrooms and handwashing stations out to streets to help meet sanitation needs during Covid-19.
Mayor London Breed made the announcement Tuesday afternoon as the Board of Supervisors were to vote on an emergency ordinance that would require The City to deploy a bathroom with a handwashing station at a ratio of one restroom per 50 unsheltered persons.
The requirement follows the United Nations emergency sanitation guidelines.
The Department of Public Works’ Pit Stop Program currently offers 24 locations where the public can use a restroom, three of which are open 24 hours a day.
As of next week, 15 of the 24 locations will begin operating 24 hours per day, city officials said.
Additionally, The City has recently set up 37 portable Pit Stop toilets near tent encampments.
Breed said in a statement that the pandemic has emphasized the need for more 24-hour bathroom facilities in The City.
The mayor said:
“People living on the street need available facilities, and the fact that they are staffed helps to ensure that they remain open and operating.”
Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents District 6, which includes the Tenderloin, said Tuesday at the board meeting said it is critical to put the ordinance into law so that The City reflects sanitation standards followed by the UN and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The supervisor added:
“It would provide much more accessible access to both handwashing stations and bathrooms not only for people who are living on the streets, but also for people who may rely on bathrooms because they’re out working.”
Supervisors are eyeing land under Recreation and Parks Department jurisdiction for use as a Safe Sleeping Site where homeless encampments can be monitored and regulated to meet Covid-19 physical distancing guidelines.
On Tuesday, supervisors Sandra Fewer and Gordon Mar introduced an emergency ordinance that would allow sleeping sites on Rec and Park land. The department would develop a list of locations with bathroom facility access that could serve as adequate sleep sites.
The proposed ordinance does not actually require The City to establish sites, nor does it allow for people to camp out freely.
Fewer said in a statement it was important that The City identify as many locations as possible to centralize healthcare facilities, bathrooms and handwashing stations for San Francisco’s unhoused population.
“Our ability to lift the Shelter-In-Place mandate depends on our ability to protect our most vulnerable people, and Safe Sleeping Sites that get people off our sidewalks and into safe, supervised shelter sites with enough room for physical distancing, are just one part of the solution.”