San Francisco dreams up mean way to crack down on public urinators


Seattle has a smell at certain times of year, usually during the hot and dry summer months when people are out and about and there’s no rain to clear the air. It’s pungent, sometimes skunky, and it’s everywhere. I’m talking, of course, about urine.

The problem varies from place to place (my neighborhood, Capitol Hill, is particularly pissy on Sunday mornings), but public urination may be worst in Pioneer Square, a historic neighborhood downtown that smells like the porta-potty at a NASCAR rally.

KING5 reported in May that the city plans to address the problem by installing a $100,000 solar-powered toilet in Pioneer Square by the end of the year. This won’t be Seattle’s first experiment with public toilets: Five self-cleaning toilets were installed downtown in 2003 at a cost of $5 million, but they quickly became hubs for drug use and other activities best conducted in your own home. The toilets were subsequently uninstalled and sold…

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