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Why San Francisco Is Paying $1.7 Million to Build One Toilet

Amid widespread backlash, San Francisco city officials this week canceled an event celebrating the funding of a new public toilet, which will cost nearly $2 million and take two years to build.

SO WHAT

The labyrinthine approval process and eye-watering cost are a “good summary of everything wrong with San Francisco’s regulatory environment,” National Review enterprise reporter Ryan Mills quipped in a recent analysis.

WHAT HAPPENED

The estimated price tag of the single toilet, which is located in a 150-square-foot public bathroom within a plaza in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, is $1.7 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

  • The toilet won’t be complete until 2025, thanks in large part to a slew of bureaucratic approval requirements.

WHY DOES IT COST SO MUCH?

According to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the seven-figure price tag is due to inflation in the price of construction materials and wages, as well as the “cost of building” in San Francisco.

  • Adding to the cost and length of the project are a multi-stage review and approval process involving the municipal Arts Commission, which is composed of three architects, a landscape architect, and two other design professionals.
  • Before the commode can be built, the entire project must undergo a review under the California Environmental Quality Act.
  • The city has said the $1.7 million estimate for the cost to build the toilet “is extremely rough.”

“They told me $1.7 million, and I got $1.7 million,” California Assemblyman Matt Haney, who secured funding for the toilet, told the Chronicle. “I didn’t have the option of bringing home less of the bacon when it comes to building a toilet. A half a toilet or a toilet-maybe-someday is not much use to anyone.”

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