Bonds for Johns: Muni Proposes Debt-Financed Restrooms

For the past six years, the Municipal Transportation Agency has had the authority to issue bonds. In essence, it can print money (well, your money). The department has rarely opted to do so, but in 2013 the MTA issued a $75 million bond. Yet the smorgasbord of projects it covers are decidedly pedestrian ­— in multiple applications of the word.

Myriad streetscape improvements and "transit safety" plans are tossed together in a debt-financed tying up of loose ends. It's difficult to object to the notion of "transit safety" — but it's also odd to go the route of bonding and, in the long run, paying double.

And yet San Francisco, which in 2011 issued a $248 million bond to simply pave the streets, is the city that knows how. It befits a locale willing to toss bond money into the ground to also put it in the toilet — the MTA bond allocates $2 million for operator restrooms.

Of this, $850,000 should go toward buiding up to five lavatories in "Phase One," with $1.15 million for "outreach" toward erecting perhaps 10 more.

On its face, that's $133,333 per restroom. And this would be a bargain: City planners have pegged the cost of constructing public johns at nearly $400,000 apiece.

That would be an interesting number even if it weren't being paid back with interest.

 
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