SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today the opening of the Square’s restroom, which will take place on Thursday, March 12th, 2015. Portsmouth Square is located in the heart of Chinatown with one of the highest density of population in San Francisco. The Square is considered the living room for residents in the neighborhood as many of those residents live in Single Room Occupancy buildings with limited personal space and often lack access to outdoors.
The $2 million restroom renovation is funded by the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond’s Citywide Restroom Repair and Renovation Program. Portsmouth Square Restroom is a free-standing restroom building located within Portsmouth Square and designed as a modern interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture. The renovation project was supported by many Chinatown community groups including Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and more.
“We thank the Chinatown community for their support and patience during the renovation of Portsmouth Square restroom to get to its opening today,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “We now look forward to continuing the work together with the community, Supervisor Julie Christensen and the Rec and Park Department in a planning effort for the entire Portsmouth Square that is such a critical resource for the Chinatown community.”
“Portsmouth Square is San Francisco’s original town square and continues to be key today, for recreation and socializing and a breath of fresh air in the City’s most crowded and most visited neighborhood. We are grateful to SF Rec and Park for including the Portsmouth Square restrooms among the 2008 Parks Bond projects,” said District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen.
In 2008, SF Rec and Park’s Restroom Task Force evaluated free-standing restrooms on park property. And due to the high-user count of the Portsmouth Square restroom, the Task Force recommended that its capacity be increased. At the conclusion of the first community meeting, it was decided that the preferred solution was to increasing user capacity by replacing the existing restroom rather than to expand or supplement it. The solution would bring the much-valued performance to the facility.
“The Portsmouth Square Restroom was constructed in the 1990s and quickly had become one of the most used public restroom facility by residents and visitors in San Francisco,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “With this renovation, we are now able to improve our ability to maintain and operate the facility to better serve the local and Chinatown communities.”
“Chinatown seniors, families, and merchants often rated clean and adequate public restrooms as an important community need and priority. It is something that everyone agreed on. Over 100 of CCDC’s residents, Chinatown families, community members and stakeholders attended a series of community design workshops, and they passionately voiced their feedbacks to the final design,” said Rev. Norman Fong of the Chinatown Community Development Center. “We are grateful for the Recreation and Park Department staff and architect’s sensitivity to the community and created an excellent design that meets the needs of the community.”
The new design for the Portsmouth Square Restroom is a modern interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture. It is designed to take advantage of natural ventilation and sunlight, durability and ease of maintenance. The sloping roof line with wire-treatment along the edges is designed for pigeon-proofing. A combination of roof overhang and obscure glass limits sightlines into the restroom building from nearby taller buildings. The renovation also increased the capacity in the men’s room from 4 to 5 stalls, and in the women’s room from 2 to 6 stalls. In addition, a separate “family room” is now available for intergenerational, mix-gender use for children and their families.