Though public urination is best is done in natural spaces with some privacy, city folk sometimes just gotta go too. Innocent walls or sidewalks are often the victims of such crimes, but San Francisco is doing something about it. Nine SF city walls have been painted with an anti-urine agent, which deflects the stream back onto the streamer.
The urine deflector shields are being installed to discourage would-be whizzes. “We are piloting it to see if we can discourage people from peeing at many of our hot spots,” says Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “Nobody wants to smell urine. We are trying different things to try to make San Francisco smell nice and look beautiful.” Although it was banned in 2002, public urination has become a scourge of San Francisco, despite fines of up to $500 for committing the crime.
The paint has previously been successful in Hamburg’s St. Pauli neighborhood, where beer drinkers have been forced to walk a few extra steps to a patch of dirt before they urinate. Known as Ultra-Ever Dry, the coating was developed by Ultra-tech and designed to create on the target a surface chemistry and geometry that is quite hilly. The peaks of these hills are effective at repelling most water-based and some-oil based liquid. This should make for an interesting effect during a rainstorm (whenever California gets one).
The installation of an Ultra-Ever Dry wall costs about $200. To some residents, the tricky walls have already paid for themselves. “I think it’s a great thing,” says Shearie Ely of Oakland. “It’s just so nasty right now. I work over here, and I see people using the bathroom all over the place every day. It’s so inhumane, and it smells disgusting. They’re about to get what’s coming to them.” More walls are set to be altered throughout the city.
Instead of urinating on a wall, consider peeing on a plant. Because of the rich nitrogen content of urine, the plant will thank you and grow more vigorously. In fact, the waste of urine dumped into bodies of water is a main contributor to the creation of dead zones. Every time you relieve yourself by the roots of a plant, remember that you are peeing your way to a better world.