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Mailbag!: BAS Readers Respond to Stuart’s “Poop Plan”

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Hello dear readers in broke-itude!

Well, it’s been a busy week here at BAS and even more so for our esteemed Editor-In-Cheap, as he sallies forth on the campaign trail.

Stuart’s article in last Wednesday’s Examiner, in particular, elicited an overwhelming response in regards to our city’s lack of urgency on it’s citizens’ very real, well, sense of urgency.

We got some feedback here, in the BAS <ahem> newsroom and wanted to share some insights with the unrelieved masses.


B writes:


I can relate to your article on public bathrooms.  I was homeless in SF for the last 6 months, and finding a bathroom was tough.  I am not currently homeless so things are much better.

The one option I wanted to bring to your attention is the fast food restaurants that do not offer restrooms (even to paying customers).  I found KFC  to be the worst offenders.  For example the one on Polk street on or near Eddy always had an out of order sign.  After several weeks I doubted that was the truth, and an employee admitted that it worked just fine.  I called the health dept. and never heard back and weeks later it was still closed.  Since I got housing a month ago I have not been back there, but I bet it is still the case.  I went to the KFC on Taraval near 30th? and they do not have a public restroom either (or a handicapp lift that works).

Finger licking, but no wiping.

Finger licking, but no wiping.

The Burger King on Van Ness and Eddy? also has a closed restroom.

I thought food places were required to have a restroom for customer’s use.  Anyway, if that is the case, just enforcing that with fast food places would help a lot.



Thanks, B.

Not all of us have been in your shoes and we’re glad to hear that you were able to find a spot of your own, but even those that haven’t can most definitely identify with being lied to about either not having a bathroom or told it is out of order in less scrupulous chain establishments, even if we did fork over cash for their slop that got us in the predicament in the first place.


J chimes in:

“Enjoyed your article today “City’s public bathrooms in need of relief.”

Whatever the City can do helping the homeless in this regard is actually helping all San Franciscans and visitors alike.

One thing that shouldn’t be done is “false advertising” in some of the ways the City is supposedly helping the homeless.

I say supposedly, because I don’t think (I could be wrong) any homeless know about this opportunity:


“SF Fire Dept: Homeless Can Now Use Our Toilets to Poop

Here’s some good news for homeless people and the general public that is a step in creating a better environment on San Francisco’s streets and assisting the homeless with maintaining adequate personal hygiene. My toilet access project was seeded in February and has now borne fruit.

FYI, the toilets I’ve demanded public access to were all created and are maintained with taxpayer funds.

On behalf of the City, the Department of Public Health, after four months of pushing them and the Mayor’s homeless office and director Bevan Dufty (who broke a promise to address lack of public toilets), and the top brass at the SF Fire Department, informed me of some radical changes:

“Thank you for your advocacy to increased toilet access for San Franciscans. We are pleased to update you on the following efforts to increase bathroom availability: 

“Fire Station Restrooms: Nearly all of the San Francisco Fire Stations are open for public restroom use. Any member of the public may ring the Fire Station doorbell and will be let in to use the toilet between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m…….. 

Chief Joanne Hayes-White, San Francisco Fire Department Director
Barbara Garcia, San Francisco Department of Public Health Director
Bevan Dufty, Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE)”

"Operator, this is an emergency.."

“Operator, this is an emergency..”

I wrote to the Chief and Deputy Chief Gonzales responded:

Dear J., 

As you know, members of the public have been allowed to use our restrooms on the ground floors of our Fire Stations for years.

I was instructed to create a policy.

Said policy is attached.

If you have any questions let me know.



Mark A. Gonzales

Deputy Chief of Operations

San Francisco Fire Department

698 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA. 94107-2015

Direct (415) 558-3402





TO: Divisions 2 and 3, Battalions 1-10
FROM: Deputy Chief Gonzales, Operations
DATE: June 19th, 2015
SUBJECT: General Public Usage of Fire Station Restroom Facilities


To all Members:

Fire Station Restrooms: San Francisco Fire Stations with ground floor restroom facilities are available for public use. Members of the general public may use the ground floor restroom facilities between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

If the Fire units within said Stations are called out for any emergency, the member of the public must also leave the facility immediately. Members of the public shall not be left behind alone in the Firehouse. Signs shall be posted by Station Captains on the doors of the facilities stating, “If there is an emergency dispatch and units must leave, anyone using this restroom facility must also leave immediately.”

The Fire Department employee that guides the member of the public to the bathroomfacility shall also verbally inform the member of the public that they will have to leave the facility immediately, if an emergency call comes in and no units are

available to stay behind.

The Fire Department employee that guides the member of the public into the facility is also responsible for escorting the member of the public back out of the Firehouse.

It is up to the Officer’s discretion if a member of the public is allowed to use the ground floor restroom facility. If the member of the public requesting to use the facility is inebriated or altered in any way, they shall not be allowed to use the restroom facility. The health and safety of our members and the security of the Firehouse shall also factor into the Officer’s discretion/decision.

Regarding visitors to the Firehouse, article 3950 still applies:


Members shall not invite or allow visitors not on Department business to enter Department facilities before 1000 hours or after 2100 hours. Members shall only allow visitors into public areas of a Department station or facility. Members shall not invite or allow intoxicated persons in or about Department property, except for purposes of providing medical care.



Two weeks ago I wrote to Chief Gonzales asking for a list of firehouses that have toilet facilities on the ground floor.  I have not heard back.


If a City has a program to assist the homeless and no one knows about it, is it not akin to an unwitnessed tree falling in a forest? 



Wow! Thanks, J! Yes, I believe that this is akin to a giant red tree falling in the forest that houses a bathroom that nobody realizes they can use.

Thanks so much for the footwork on this one and for passing it on to us. It ultimately seems like the destiny of one’s bladder or colon may lie in whomever is on duty at the time, but this is definitely a resource I can guarantee most people have no idea exists, least of all people who lack housing, much less the ability to receive inter-office memorandums from Chief Hayes-White.

Well, kids, there you have it. Where Burger King and KFC give you a dead end, the SFFD gives you a secret passage.

Got tips? Thoughts? Let us have it! Drop a line to



Stephen Torres, Threadbare Fact Finder
San Francisco Editor
Broke-Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website

Tenderloin Kentucky Fried Chicken by Kevin Y. on Yelp.

San Francisco Fire Department No.6 by nirsul on Panoramio for Google Maps.

City Hall photo courtesy of the San Francisco Examiner.

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Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen's early years were spent in a boxcar overlooking downtown Los Angeles. From there he moved around the state with his family before settling under the warm blanket of smog that covers suburban Southern California. Moving around led to his inability to stay in one place for very long, but San Francisco has been reeling him back in with its siren song since 1999.
By trade he pours booze, but likes to think he can write and does so occasionally for the SF Bay Guardian, Bold Italic and 7x7. He also likes to enjoy time spent in old eateries, bars and businesses that, by most standards, would have been condemned a long time ago.