San Fran whiz kids sued over open-air urination

By Bob Unruh

San Francisco's open-air urinal (Photo: Twitter)
San Francisco’s open-air urinal (Photo: Twitter)

A solution to the growing nationwide dispute over transgenders’ access to their choice of restrooms it is not.

It’s apparently not legal either.

That’s the claim made public this week in a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco over a semi-circular wall on a concrete pad with a drain in the middle that apparently is intended for public urination.

The wall is in sight of children playing nearby, pedestrians, commuter rail-line customers, tourists with video cameras and even residents of nearby homes who have become plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

WND reported in February when the controversy arose over the city’s expenditure of $15,000 to build the semi-circular public urination wall.

“This is a new low even for San Francisco. It is also blatantly illegal,” Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, said in a statement at the time.

“The city has not even attempted to comply with its own ordinances, much less state or federal law. We intend to hold them accountable. Public urination is bad enough; spending taxpayer money to promote it is indefensible.”

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The wall is at the corner of Church and 20th Streets, which is positioned next to a public park and public transit station.

San Francisco's open-air urinal (Photo: Twitter)
San Francisco’s open-air urinal (Photo: Twitter)

PJI said it sent a demand letter to the city at the time, identifying a list of legal problems with the facility, and the city responded only with documents confirming it spent at least $15,000 there.

Dacus called the concept “disgusting.”

“Officials would not and could not allow such a facility to be constructed by private businesses or residents, because it so obviously violates disability access and basic health and safety laws, to name a few. These officials are not above the law,” he said.

The organization’s letter, to Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg, said: “The open-air urination hole violates the privacy of those who need to use the restroom but would be required to expose their bodies and suffer the shame and degradation of urinating in public view. Privacy is a fundamental right enumerated in the California Constitution.”

The facility the city has created, the letter explained, is especially offensive to women and girls.

“Because of the unique way in which females urinate, when there is no standard toilet for which they can sit, they must lift their skirts or pull down their pants and undergarments and squat over the hole. This exposes the entire lower part of their bodies to the public.

“Indeed, whether a female faces the fence toward the train stop, turns her back to the fence, or squats sideways, she will be exposing much of her body to the public.”

In fact, the legal team told the city that because of restrictions on nudity, urinating in the hole “at the present location is an act facially in contravention to the … law.”

If it’s intended only for men, and not women, then it violates non-discrimination laws, the letter notes.

Further, it falls short of legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the legal team noted, “Space does not permit a detailed discussion of how the open-air urinal falls short of the requirements under the plumbing code for public restrooms.”

The public health also could be endangered by the absence of sanitation options.

“The open-air place provided for urination is a public nuisance. It is inconsistent with community standards, illegal and creates a public health risk.”

Peeing3

The lawsuit was filed against the city and the general manager of its recreation department by the Chinese Christian Union and individuals Richard Lam, Peggy Lam, Patrick Sullivan and Sylvia Terpstra in Superior Court.

It seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.

“Not only are the privacy rights of those having to publicly relieve themselves in the sewer hole abridged, but the privacy rights of individuals who happen to come upon the one urinating is also violated,” the lawsuit says.

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