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SF Pissoir Gets Judicial Blessing

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 07, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's been a long strange piss for San Francisco's first open-air public urinal, also known as a pissoir. Installed earlier this year as Dolores Park was undergoing renovations, the concrete circle, complete with drain and semicircular concrete splash guard, attracted quite a few visitors and quite a bit of media attention. It also garnered one lawsuit that claimed "[t]he open-air urination hole violates the privacy of those who need to use the restroom but would be required to expose their bodies and suffer the shame and degradation of urinating in public view."

That "be required" part was a bit of a stretch, seeing as how the park also provided 26 private, enclosed bathrooms. But a San Francisco judge has decided that the entire lawsuit is much ado about micturation and ruled that the pissoir is not a civil rights violation.

Don't Piss on Me and Tell Me It's Illegal Gender Discrimination

The San Francisco Chinese Christian Union called the train-side toilet "injurious to health," "grossly unseemly," and "indecent, and offensive to the senses," and made several constitutional assertions, claiming the pissoir violation the rights of women and disabled persons who could not use the "public nuisance."

But Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn wasn't having any of it, and took barely two pages to dismiss the lawsuit:

Plaintiffs have failed to allege any claim for which they could be entitled to the relief that they seek. The installation and maintenance of the pissoir does not contravene any of the constitutional provisions, statutes or common law rules cited by the plaintiffs nor, even if it did, would there be any basis to issue the requested injunctive relief.

No, Pissing in Public Doesn't Violate the Constitution

The court went on to explain that lawsuits like this one are "improper when the challenged governmental conduct is illegal." Because the pissoir is legal, its maintenance is, as well. The ruling also bars the plaintiffs from amending their complaint and re-filing it. So opponents of the nation's first "alfresco lavatory" (as SFGate's Kimberly Veklerov expertly dubbed it) are S.O.L., so to speak.

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