Posh ‘Painted Lady’ portable toilets roll onto San Francisco streets


You can’t move into San Francisco’s newest Victorian houses, but you can use the bathrooms.

The San Francisco Public Works department this week debuted a new public loo on wheels — the Painted Lady Pit Stop — that resembles in miniature the city’s iconic ornate Victorian homes, with a shingled roof, decorative windows and exterior walls painted yellow, purple and pale green.

The colorful double-unit lavatory is the newest addition to the city’s Pit Stop public toilet program, which operates a fleet of portable potties throughout the city to discourage people from using sidewalks and doorways as toilets, according to San Francisco Public Works.

The Painted Lady toilet will be rotated among existing Pit Stop sites, temporarily replacing the standard toilet trailers.

“We are testing innovative designs that are inviting and encourage people to use them,” Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru said in a statement. “We will continue to do everything we can to improve your experience on San Francisco’s streets. At the end of the day, the Pit Stop brings relief and dignity to people in need of a bathroom and improve neighborhood livability.”

The Painted Lady is a solar-powered toilet designed and manufactured as part of a collaboration between the Public Works department and the San Francisco business Tiny Potties, owned by Nick Bovis.

“By creating a real house bathroom and bringing it to people who don’t have a home, you can bring them a little dignity,” Bovis said in a statement.

Like all the Pit Stops, the Painted Lady offers needle disposal boxes and free dog waste bags. Each user is allowed five minutes inside.

The Pit Stop program, which began in 2014 with three locations in the Tenderloin, employs former state prisoners. The loos are staffed through a partnership with Hunters Point Family, a nonprofit that helps people with barriers to employment find jobs.

The program includes a fleet of portable toilets and semi-permanent JCDecaux public restrooms. It also staffs one park bathroom in the South of Market neighborhood.

Costa Mesa currently is considering a similar portable toilet program.

The Painted Lady toilet is part of the San Francisco Public Works department’s Pit Stop program.
(San Francisco Public Works)

Twitter: @haileybranson