San Francisco unveils new free public toilet at Embarcadero Plaza

SAN FRANCISCO – City officials unveiled a public toilet at Embarcadero Plaza this past week that is part of a project to replace 25 existing public toilets in San Francisco.

The project is a partnership with the same company, JCDecaux San Francisco, that provided the existing 25 self-cleaning toilets first rolled out in 1994.

According to the city’s news release on the program, the original forest green Art Nouveau-style toilets are being replaced with a new model that has more efficient and effective cleaning systems, as well as better lighting that includes a skylight to bring in daylight from above and a rain-water collection network that supports routine washing. 

New public toilet at SF Embarcadero
New public toilet at SF Embarcadero


As part of the negotiated, 20-year agreement, JCDecaux is underwriting the full cost of the design, manufacturing, installation and daily maintenance of the 25 public toilets. 

In exchange, the company gets the right to install 114 sidewalk advertising kiosks throughout downtown, the Financial District and popular tourist areas – the same number allowed under the original agreement. 

In addition, JCDecaux will pay $2.2 million a year for staffing at approximately 11 of the toilets, as part of the Public Works’ Pit Stop program. An attendant will be on hand to ensure the toilets are kept safe, clean and operational for their intended use. 

The new public toilet at Embarcadero Plaza will be staffed seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

In a partnership with San Francisco Arts Commission, 40 of the advertising kiosks along Market Street will include public art posters by local artists. 

SmithGroup, a national design firm with a San Francisco office, was chosen as the winner of an invitation-only competition to redesign the public toilets and multi-function advertising kiosks. 

JCDecaux San Francisco is part of JCDecaux SA, which describes itself on its website as the largest outdoor advertising company in the world.

Its subsidiary, JCDecaux France, just won a contract with the city of Paris to replace in 2024 and 2025 the 435 public toilets the company first rolled out on city streets in 2009. The company runs bike-share programs around the world and first brought a bike-share program to Paris in 2007 that is often cited as the most successful in the world. 

A video of the project produced by San Francisco Public Works has been posted on YouTube.

A Next-Generation Public Toilet – Public Works TV Episode 71 by
San Francisco Public Works on

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