Once estimated to cost $1.7 million, San Francisco's long-mocked toilet is up and running

A San Francisco restroom once estimated to cost $1.7 million is now up and running for the public after the city received criticism, jokes and a generous donation.

San Francisco Recreation and Parks opened the single public restroom in the Noe Valley neighborhood after receiving a donation that cut the city's cost to under $200,000, Daniel Montes, the city agency's communication manager, told USA TODAY in an email.

"The bathroom has been well received by the Noe Valley community, and we’re happy to finally provide some relief for parkgoers," Montes said.

Public Restroom Company's and Volumetric Building Companies' donations equate to a combined $425,000 and include a prefabricated modular restroom and all associated installation work, the city agency said in a January 2023 news release. Public Restroom Company, a Nevada-based business, also donated a toilet previously used for demonstration purposes in trade shows.

"The gift also allows Rec and Park to save approximately $491,000 in design, construction management and other regulatory and design review costs," according to the release.

Pictured is San Francisco's $1.7 million single public restroom at Noe Valley Town Square.
Pictured is San Francisco's $1.7 million single public restroom at Noe Valley Town Square.

San Francisco Rec and Park criticized for $1.7 million restroom

Before the donation, the city received criticism from community members who thought the restroom would be paid entirely by state funding, San Francisco Rec and Park said in the release. The initial "rough estimate" for the custom-designed and custom-built restroom at Noe Valley Town Square was $1.7 million with a two-year timeline, according to the city agency.

The donation will save the city $115,500 on construction, $91,800 in project management fees and $90,000 in architecture and engineering fees, San Francisco Rec and Park said.

“We are thrilled to accept this generous donation, which will allow us to deliver this important project to the Noe Valley community,” Phil Ginsburg, general manager of San Francisco Rec and Park, said in the release. “... It’s not easy navigating the city’s contracting and construction process, which of course is of small consolation when your 2-year-old needs a diaper change. We will fully support efforts by our city’s leaders to make small public works projects like this one − which aren’t always saved by philanthropy − less costly and more efficient to deliver."

Bill Maher, San Francisco residents find humor in the installation of $1.7 million restroom

Although the city received a donation to cover some expenses, the public and celebrities still made jokes about a restroom estimated to cost $1.7 million.

Comedian Bill Maher spoke about the bathroom in February 2023 on his talk show "Real Time with Bill Maher," which he reposted on Facebook. He called San Francisco the "poop capital of the world" and said the problem he has with the government is that it does not disclose other expenses needed for projects which "sucks the money out of America."

One commenter under Maher's clip on Facebook joked about cashing out on the new restroom.

"Imma gonna use it, slip and fall, and sue the city for $14 million," the commenter said.

Pictured is San Francisco's $1.7 million single public restroom at Noe Valley Town Square.
Pictured is San Francisco's $1.7 million single public restroom at Noe Valley Town Square.

San Francisco residents even found the idea of a $1.7 million toilet humorous when they held the "Toilet Bowl" on Sunday to commemorate the bathroom's installation.

“We wanted to, you know, really roll with it,” Zach D’Angelo, dressed as a giant roll of toilet paper with a red plunger as his hat, told the New York Times at the event. D’Angelo stepped away from hosting trivia at a pub down the street to be the event's emcee, or what he called "the Grand Poobah," the outlet reported.

“I am flush with excitement!” D'Angelo told the outlet, before he began telling toilet jokes his 7-year-old nephew came up with.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: San Francisco opens Noe Valley public restroom after countless jokes