Now, back in 2007, your humble narrator called many other cities to see how much restrooms cost there. The answer, in brief: A lot -- but less than here. One of the reasons we pay more -- aside from labor costs and buying and trucking in pre-fab johns that cost more from the get-go -- is that San Franciscans often seek input into every last procedural process of the procedure.
When neighborhood residents want a restroom 30 yards this way rather than that way, it entails tearing up and replacing electric and plumbing. Or felling trees. Or expending time and money to argue about whether or not to fell trees. Or putting in a ramp because it's hillier over there. You get the idea.
Also, San Francisco is the type of place where we have concerns about the "architectural significance" of our restrooms. So the $700,000 facilities Triska noted -- a pair of World War II-era "Public Convenience Centers" on Great Highway -- are both large and architecturally frilly. They'll stay that way -- but it won't be cheap.
When we noted that we could buy a nice house with several restrooms in it for less than $700,000, Triska didn't disagree. But he pointed out that a house isn't meant to be given the gorilla luggage treatment for half a century, and a public john is. Your toilet costs $60 -- but, Triska notes, the stainless steel toilets that'll survive for more than 10 minutes in a public lavatory can run $700. Ceramic tile is expensive, he adds -- and it's tile from floor to ceiling in public johns, because removing graffiti tags from plaster is a pain in the neck.
Finally, Triska said that the costs on the 19 restrooms in question have been thoroughly researched -- so it's no surprise that the price tags are higher than before. Why is it that things in this city never seem to end up costing less than anticipated after detailed analysis?
We will follow this story a little more; keep an eye out for toilet article No. 2.
Photo | Jim Herd