Poop on Mission Street. Poop between cars. Poop in the alley. Poop in the Tenderloin. Poop in the escalator—so much poop that the escalator breaks down under the strain of all that poop. Everywhere you look, San Francisco residents are saying, there is poop, poop, poop.
This past fall, a project started called (Human) Wasteland, which maps reports of human waste throughout the city of San Francisco. Yes, a disproportionate amount of poop on the streets is not from dogs but from humans.
Some in the blogosphere tended to play this for laughs, but the reality isn't very funny.
Counterpoint: it's a little funny. There's a nice poetic justice to the gilded paradise of new-money tech-dudes teeming with the inescapable waste of people left behind or displaced by the awful march of disruption.
But the jokes come as a consequence of a pressing and critical problem: Homelessness. And a sore lack of public facilities that homeless people are accessible to homeless people. Will Kane at Ratter, the local-reporting site launched by former Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio, dove into the issue last month:
By an unofficial count there are just five public restrooms in all of the Tenderloin, said Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director of Coalition on Homelessness, a local advocacy group for the city's poor.
While tourists and shoppers can sneak into a hotel or store and use the bathroom many people who don't have access to a bathroom during the day "get turned away because they are poor, and they are black," Friedenbach said. "Human beings do not want to defect or urinate in public. It is not natural and they do so out of desperation because they have no where else to go."
Besides the mess, Friedenbach said, people who relieve themselves in city streets can't wash their hands or keep themselves clean.
Since that article, Kane has launched a "Today's Turd" feature, chronicling the craps that Ratter writers and readers encounter on their daily goings-about. Arieff's op-ed mentions (Human) Wasteland, a graphic that uses shit-colored clouds to map waste complaints throughout the city. If you didn't know better, you might think you were looking at a map of some imaginatively-named city called "San F____o." The rest of the name is engulfed in one enormous brown spot.
[Image via Ratter]