In 2008, the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department launched a spirited campaign for Proposition A — the $185 million neighborhood parks bond — by sending a flurry of mailers to local residents. Each placard featured a map of the city with 35 stars, all scattered around a photograph of the new bungalow-style restroom that Rec & Park erected in the Panhandle the year before.
That john, with its pitched roof and green tiling, was enticement enough to pass Measure A through the ballot. Voters were led to believe that each star corresponded to a similarly charming piece of toilet architecture, and Rec & Park judiciously omitted the overall price of the bond, with $11.4 million earmarked for restroom renovation. Divide that by 35 and you get $326,000 per restroom, which actually pales in comparison to the $531,219 that San Francisco spent on its Panhandle centerfold.
But as of last week, Rec & Park had spent its entire restroom budget and fixed only 21 restrooms. A spokeswoman says the campaign language wasn't binding, that it was just an "estimate ... likely to have developed ... once the department got feedback from the community."
Meaning, apparently, that the community wanted fewer bathroom fixes, though the total cost is the same. So: $542,857 per restroom. Perhaps, in a city that fetishizes high-priced accessories, toilets are no exception.