Thursday, September 03, 2015

SF Weakly: Secret Firehouse Public Toilets for Homeless Folks

It's a good thing I don't depend on Chris Roberts and the SF Weakly for all the facts about the fire department's change of rules regarding homeless and public access to taxpayer-funded toilets at firehouses, a change that came about because I began demanding it back in February. At the end of May, my single-voice campaign persuaded the SFFD to enact a policy allowing expanded toilet access.

Roberts and the Weakly have ignored those developments but on September 2, they ran a story that never explained how and why the fire department did the right thing. Roberts reported:

 "SF Weekly was alerted to the situation only by the vigilance of Michael Petrelis, a controversial Castro District blogger and activist (who was once served a restraining order for photographing a politician in a City Hall public restroom). And Petrelis was only made aware of the [expanded toilet access] policy after he received a July 30 SFFD memo via the Fire Commission, where he'd been raising a stink about increasing public access to meetings."

No, Mister Roberts, I was well aware of the policy I changed well before July 30 and since you raise the issues I've raised at fire commission meetings, you should know it was at those meetings where I raised my voice without anyone from the Homeless Inc assisting me.

Oh, and I also persuaded the commission to air its meetings on SFGovTV and move them to City Hall, to expand access, there's that phrase again, for the public to keep tabs on the commission and department's brass. Haven't read about that expansion of government sunshine and accountability in the Weakly.

On the positive side, Roberts gives these facts:

"But it turns out there are as many as 45 under-utilized public bathrooms in San Francisco — at each of the city's fire stations. Ground-floor restrooms at fire stations are public restrooms, available between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (unless there's a fire, in which case the bathroom is closed, no matter how dire the other emergency). One would think this could help stem the tide of urine that's drowning us (and caused one corroded light pole to collapse). The problem is that nobody seems aware the bathrooms are available.

"'Nobody on our staff had heard about it,' says Jennifer Friedenbach, the Coalition on Homelessness's Executive Director. 'The city should put the word out that they're available.'"

I must point out that the Coalition on Homelessness's staff should have read the emails I sent them about my demands on and eventual success with the fire department. Progressives working in Homeless Inc might learn a lot if they listened to advocates such as myself who are outside their tight circle of associates and those who hold opinions contrary to Homeless Inc thinking.

My final kvetch, at least contained here, is that the Weakly should treat SFFD toilet access as the story is it deserving of greater length to bring in the Mayor's Office and City Hall officials who've done nothing much to educate everyone about being able to pee and poop at firehouses.

Take the time to use our public firehouse toilets the next time you need to relieve yourself!

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