SAN FRANCISCO, CA –The cost to San Francisco for a public restroom at Noe Valley Town Square has plunged to $300,000—thanks to a donation of a prefabricated modular unit and much of the labor required to install it, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today. The donation additionally saves hundreds of thousands of dollars in professional and construction management fees and services.
Public Restroom Company and Volumetric Building Companies will donate a prefabricated modular restroom and associated installation work worth a combined $425,000. The gift also allows Rec and Park to save approximately $491,000 in design, construction management and other regulatory and design review costs. The restroom will be installed in late summer.
An early, rough estimate for a custom designed and custom-built restroom at Noe Valley Town Square reached $1.7 million with a two-year timeline. The estimate, drawn up before a design was in place and including various contingencies, drew criticism after community members sought and received state funding in that amount. A similar early estimate for the city to purchase and customize a prefabricated, modular unit was $1.2 million.
Among the cost savings achieved through the donated bathroom and labor, shortened timeline, and reduced or eliminated services:
- Savings of $115,500 on construction
- Savings of $91,800 in project management fees
- Savings of $90,000 in architecture and engineering fees
The agreement will go before the Recreation and Park Commission and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for approval next month. The toilet to be donated is currently being used in trade shows as the Public Restroom Company’s demonstration. Rec and Park hopes to use a portion of the $1.7 million in funding, which is currently being held at the state level, to cover the $300,000 in city costs, and prioritize the remainder toward purchasing a prefabricated restroom for Precita Park.
The donation includes delivery, on-site demolition and construction, as well as plumbing, electrical, and water hookups. It also includes some modifications to the building, such as adding shelving and a utility sink and erecting a wooden fence around the unit. All work will be done through a union contractor and pay prevailing wages. Public Restroom Company is headquartered in Nevada, which is among the approximately 30 states San Francisco is banned from doing business due to restrictive laws around reproductive, LGBTQ+ or voter laws. However, the ban does not apply to donations.
Because the structure is already designed, built, and permitted through the state of California, it does not need a traditional review by the Mayor’s Office on Disability and the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection. The gift eliminates the need for the city to conduct a bidding process or a pay a cost estimator. Budget contingencies related to escalation during a lengthy construction project, which were included in the original estimates, have also been eliminated.
Rec and Park will hire a landscape design firm to supplement the donor’s design drawing package—construction illustrations that depict building details, improvements to the site, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. Rec and Park will also handle in house all permitting and contract administration related to the project and coordinate environmental reviews and approvals. Typically, Rec and Park pays other city agencies for such services.
“We are thrilled to accept this generous donation, which will allow us to deliver this important project to the Noe Valley community,” said Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “We work hard to be good stewards, and as a result, our park system has benefitted from nearly $200 million in private philanthropy over the past 12 years. We are grateful to the Public Restroom Company and Volumetric Building Companies for their partnership and creativity, the Governor for his support and most of all the people of Noe Valley for their patience. It’s not easy navigating the city’s contracting and construction process, which of course is of small consolation when your 2-year-old needs a diaper change. We will fully support efforts by our city’s leaders to make small public works projects like this one — which aren’t always saved by philanthropy — less costly and more efficient to deliver. ”