$15,000 open-air urinal planned for California park

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KTVU/CNN) – An unusual new place “to go” coming soon to a San Francisco park has no seat and no flush handle, but is raising some questions about practicality from some park-goers.

Bryan Ching happily strolled through Dolores Park on Wednesday enjoying the overcast afternoon.

One thing he didn’t enjoy was the line of porta-potties.

“Porta-potties are just kind of gross; just so confined,” Ching said. “And people do who knows what in there.”

Starting next week, the park will undergo a $12.5 million renovation. San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department said part of the renovation is to improve the bathrooms.

Thirty-one new bathroom stalls in two buildings will be built, but there will also be one “pissoir” or open-air urinal.

“There’s a big issue right now with people urinating on the Muni tracks,” said renovation project manager Jake Gilchrist.

He said that with 5,000 people visiting the park every weekend day, the porta-potties were being vandalized and overused.

Gilchrist described the pissoir, or pPod.

“[It] is essentially a 7-foot screen with some plants on it and an area drain that empties into the sewer system,” Gilchrist said.

He also said the semi-cylindrical mesh screen will be open in the back and wheelchair-accessible.

Privacy is a concern for park visitor Pedro Martins.

“I don’t feel comfortable with that, especially with adults and children. You never know about the predators out there,” he said.

Others said the pPod is a better idea compared to a stack of porta-potties. “Pretty sure it’s a little cleaner than what goes on in those porta-potties,” Ching said.

The pPod will be installed in the coming months. The entire park renovation is set to be completed by spring 2015.

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