Earlier this year, the City of San Francisco renovated Dolores Park. The renovation included an open-air urinal, which in this case simply means a sheet of plastic affixed to a semicircular wire framework above a hole in the ground. The city maintains the urinal was needed because men were unable or unwilling to control their bodily functions. The urinal is right next to a streetcar stop frequented by men, women, and children.
The public urinal, which is open from three sides, has upset some San Francisco residents. On February 4, the Pacific Justice Institute, representing the San Francisco Chinese Christian Union, sent a “cure and correct” letter to Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of the city’s Recreation and Parks Department. The letter reads “the act of public urination causes innocent members of the community to unwillingly and unexpectedly be exposed to intimate parts of a stranger’s body… the open-air place provided for urination is a public nuisance. It is inconsistent with community standards, illegal, and creates a public health risk.”
The Chinese Christian Union is an association of San Francisco’s Protestant denominations, and has been active in both the right to life and the defense of marriage movements. The group has been a regular presence at San Francisco’s Walk for Life West Coast, and one of their members, Frank Lee, gave the invocation in 2010. Lee also serves as chairman of the San Francisco Bay Area Advisory Board of the Pacific Justice Institute.
The complaint asks for an order “enjoining the continued unlawful and wasteful expenditure of tax dollars on maintaining, and holding open for use to the public, the pissoir; and an order, pursuant to CCP §526a, enjoining future installations and maintenance of pissoirs within the jurisdiction of the City and County of San Francisco.”
The San Francisco City attorney responded with a press release that even the Gate termed “very snarky.” The headline of the release read: “Ain’t that a pissoir?!” Followed by the subhead: “Conservative group sues San Francisco over ‘pissoir’ facility at local park famous for its counter culture, immodest sunbathing, pot brownies, ‘Hunky Jesus’ and more.”
City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey, a longtime parishioner and former parish council member of San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer Church, remarked that “if I had to predict the top 100 things in Dolores Park likely to offend these plaintiffs, I wouldn’t have guessed that this would make the cut.”