San Francisco’s $1.7 million public toilet is making headlines, but it’s not unusual. Especially in California.
A while back I dug into some of the dirty truths about the high cost of public bathrooms.
In ’08, a San Francisco Weekly article fumed that a park restroom in Golden Gate Park was costing taxpayers $531,219. Fast forward, a decade later the cost of a park restroom in the Golden Gate Boathouse had ballooned to $2 million or $4,700 per square foot.
Why did a 15-foot by 28-foot bathroom cost millions? Part of the answer may be that San Fran privileges minority businesses and requires that 15% of work hours be carried out by “disadvantaged” workers.
New York City’s bathrooms were always pricey. In ’08, they ran to a million. A recent report noted that the overpriced real estate market had pulled off a new high with a $6 million bathroom. Last year’s record was a $4.7 million bathroom in the Bronx. An average park bathroom in the Big Apple now runs to $3.6 million.
One public bathroom has been under construction for twelve years. That helps explain the cost.
The Bronx bathroom began to be designed in ’06, with a projected completion date of ‘14. Procurement took another year. Construction took 2 years.
San Diego bought two “Loos” and spent over half a million dollars to get them going. At one point there were fears that the bathrooms, which cost $175,000 to buy and ship, might run to $800.000.
Where did the money go?
$23,000 was spent by the city on permits. $245,000 on construction. And $41,000 on consultants.
Because you can’t install a public toilet without spending $20,500 per toilet on consultants.
Consultants help run up the costs on most projects. And they’re euphemisms for kickbacks for the politically connected. So are most of these projects.
The high cost of bathrooms is due to regulatory barriers created by blue states and cities, which then consultants can help you navigate, while the politicians cash in on contributions.
Politically connected contractors get contractors using politically connected suppliers and hire politically connected consultants.
Under these conditions, everything costs a ton.
The first apartments cost an average of $479,000 a unit. Some went as high as $650,000 a unit. But that wasn’t good enough. Two years later, the cost of an average unit hit $531,000, with some apartments going up to $746,000. Building an apartment in Los Angeles for a crackhead was costing more than the price of a mansion in some parts of the country.
Unable to build apartments for less than the cost of a mansion, Los Angeles launched a pilot program to build 8×8 aluminum sheds for the homeless for only $130,000 each. The average cost of a home in LA is $500 per square foot. The aluminum sheds with 64 square feet of space managed to completely blow that away. But the no-bid contract probably helped.
The homeless had been setting up their own tent encampments for free. So the city launched a pilot program to have the government set up tents for the homeless for only $2,600 per tent.
That’s $2,600 a month.
Each tent in a parking lot near the 101 freeway in East Hollywood costs twice as much as the rent on a local apartment. It actually costs more than the average month’s rent in LA. You can find two-bedroom apartments in Beverly Hills that cost less than a government homeless tent.
Controller Galperin explained that, “doing nothing also costs a lot of money.”
Government employees know that’s very true.
The government tent city was outsourced to Urban Alchemy, a social welfare non-profit that has raised eyebrows by scoring million dollar contracts in San Francisco and Los Angeles to offer cleaning services, showers for the homeless, and tent cities. Urban Alchemy gets these contracts under the name of its financial sponsor: Hunters Point Family.
Urban Alchemy CEO Lena Miller explained that it all costs so much money because her organization employs “long-term offenders” and pays them $19 an hour.
Everything costs insane amounts of money because what you’re really paying most of that money toward are the political organizations and special interests that actually run the city.
What do you think those disgraced LA City Council members were actually fighting over?
A bathroom can cost millions, just like a shed can cost $130,000. It’s not the bathroom that costs millions, it’s the political mafia behind it.