Thirteen years after San Francisco banned public urination and introduced hefty fines for the deed, the city is taking a new approach with walls that fight back.
In an attempt to cut public urination (and the resulting odor), San Francisco’s public works department has coated nine walls throughout the city with Ultra-Ever Dry, the creation of Florida-based chemical cleanup company Ultra-tech that repels liquids. Yes, that means whoever tries to relieve themselves on said wall will get sprayed right back.
According to SF Gate, the paint has had some success in European cities, particularly in Hamburg, Germany’s beer-centric St. Pauli quarter. San Francisco’s public works is heading up the pilot program in neighborhoods including the Mission, the Tenderloin and South of Market.
Legislation banned public urination in San Francisco in 2002, and fines can run up to $500, but complaints over the act persist. According to SF Gate:
Since January, there have been 375 requests to steam clean urine. They made up 5 percent of the 7,504 requests Public Works received, which cover everything from feces to pigeon droppings. Overall, steam cleaning requests have dropped 17 percent since last summer, largely thanks to the Pit Stop program that provides public rest rooms.
More Ultra-Ever Dry-coated walls will be introduced in the next month. A few lucky public works officials will be checking on the first nine locations to look for signs of reduced smell and judge the paint job’s ability to ward off public urination.
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.