A $1.7 million planned public restroom in a San Francisco neighborhood is unfinished over a year after it was announced.

The city obtained $1.7 million in taxpayer funds in October 2022 to build the high-end bathroom in the Noe Valley Town Square, which lacked such a facility. But taxpayer outrage and bureaucratic red tape have ground its construction to a halt, and now what remains are patches of dirt and mulch where an alternative modular option has yet to be built, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

“Why isn’t there a toilet here?” a Noe Valley resident told NYT. “I just don’t get it. Nobody does. It’s yet another example of the city that can’t.”

The bathroom project first faced complications after the city’s planned celebration for its construction in October 2022 was canceled following outrage from taxpayers who felt the cost was far too high to justify, according to the NYT. The city tried to justify the price by claiming that architectural and construction costs in San Francisco were universally higher.

Taxpayers were also confused that it would take two to three years to finish the bathroom’s construction due to the city’s red tape and permitting laws, according to the NYT. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom revoked the funds after the ensuing public outrage.

Many San Francisco residents felt the bathroom fiasco was a prime example of the city’s inability to get things done, according to the NYT. High costs compounded by slow permitting and approval times in San Francisco have resulted in other scrapped public infrastructure projects, including a plan to install 3,000 trash cans across the city that would have cost $500,000 and five years to complete.

After the $1.7 million in funds were revoked, two businessmen offered in November 2022 to help donate an alternate, modular public bathroom to Noe Valley Town Square that would have significantly less than the initial project, according to NYT. But this too was dragged down by high worker wages and slow permit processes, and that project also remains unfinished, though the businessmen hope to see it completed by April.

San Francisco is one of the top 10 most expensive cities to live in the world, yet suffers from abnormal rates of drug usecrime and homelessness. Major businesses and companies have recently fled San Francisco in the wake of these problems, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Democratic San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jake Smith on January 25, 2024

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