2017 Bright Idea
City and County of San Francisco, CA
January 1, 2017

San Francisco’s Pit Stop program offers people public toilets where they are needed most, resulting in cleaner streets and allowing people to relieve themselves with dignity. What makes this program different — and data shows successful — is that Pit Stops are staffed, ensuring that the bathrooms are kept safe and clean. The program began as a pilot in 2014 with three locations in the Tenderloin, one of the most challenging neighborhoods in San Francisco located adjacent to the tony Union Square shopping area. There, the portable facilities are brought onto the curbside sites every day after overnight servicing. In April 2015, Public Works began expanding the Pit Stop program, one neighborhood at a time. In addition to portable toilets, the Pit Stops now also include the fixed-in-place, self-cleaning JCDecaux public toilets. Previously, those toilets were underused and havens for illegal activity, including drug use, drug dealing, and prostitution. With the added Pit Stop staffing, appropriate usage has soared, and people feel safe using them. Today, Public Works operates Pit Stops at 17 locations in eight neighborhoods, with a collective 25,000-plus uses a month.