Wednesday, January 20, 2016

SFFD Rejects Homeless Welcome Toilet Access Signs

Before we jump into the signage matter, please read Chief Joanne Hayes-White's monthly calendar for 2015 posted here as two PDFs.

Last spring, I persuaded the fire, health and public works departments to collaborate and make the homeless aware of expanded toilet access at taxpayer funded firehouses. I now am demanding the fire department install signs at all firehouses saying "Public Toilets Open to All. Everyday from 9 am to 6 pm."

This response from Mark Gonzales, deputy chief of operations, today lays out convoluted rationale about station operations, which has nothing to do with toilet access toilet access. In essence, to me, the SFFD is rejecting "homeless welcome" signage and expanded public use of the restrooms.

Currently, every station has a large sign out front announcing it's a safe surrender site for unwanted babies. I see no reason why similar signage won't be installed regarding toilet access hours and that everyone is welcome to use bathrooms.

Let's put aside the condescending tone from Gonzales and continue to advocate on behalf of the many homeless trying to survive on the tough San Francisco streets, during the continuing El Nino storms and frigid temperatures.

If you support toilet signage at firehouses, please attend the next fire commission meeting on Wednesday, January 27 at 5 pm at City Hall in Room 400.
You can reach Gonzales at 415-558-3402 and here's his addy:

Excerpts from his letter:

"I was asked to respond to your request to Chief Hayes-White from January 16, 2016. I am responding to the issues that you raised at the January 13, 2016 Fire Commission meeting regarding public access to Fire Station restrooms.

"I appreciate your advocacy for the homeless population in this regard; however, I believe such access is not operationally feasible in most cases for the public or the Department members. [...]

"The SFFD prides itself in meeting or exceeding our response times to emergencies. This is accomplished through quick apparatus boarding and immediate travel out of the Firehouse to the emergency incident.

"Given the totality of all these considerations, although your idea is well-intentioned, the SFFD cannot accommodate the request to immediately place signage at all Fire Houses with public toilet availability."

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