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People Can Now Pee In Public At An Open-Air Urinal In San Francisco

When you have to go, you have to go.

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You can now pee in public at a park in San Francisco.

Overnight Wednesday the city unveiled what could be the nation's first public urinal at Dolores Park, which despite its popularity, had just three toilets, prompting visitors to water nearby bushes or unleashing their corrosive urine on nearby walls or light poles. For a park that in good weather attracts thousands of people, that's a big problem.

In 2002, the city even increased the possible fine for public urination to $500, and covered walls with a repellant paint that makes urine spray back, but it did little to deter offenders. Now, a more than $20-million renovation has brought 27 toilets, including the public urinal.

"One of the goals of the renovation was to address the littering and public urination issues that were rampant at the park before the renovation," city Recreation and Park Department spokesperson Sarah Madland told reporters.

The price for not being able to hold it at Dolores Park, however, will be privacy. The open-air urinal, with only a sheet of tarp attached to a rail guard to block the view, is adjacent to the municipal rail tracks and a busy intersection.

But for many parkgoers, it's better that what has, until now, been the alternative: Wherever you can find a spot.

"Honestly, we were ready to go pee anywhere," Aaron Cutler told NBC Bay Area. "So any facility is better than none."

The public urinals aren't uncommon in Europe, but Madland told the AP her department was not aware of any in the U.S. — until now.

Even on the night of its debut, there were early adopters.

Sweet, public, relief.

Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jason Wells at

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