What’s That Smell? San Francisco Has a Serious Problem With People Pooping in Public
If you were to ask Donald Trump what he thought of California’s Bay Area, he’d probably say that San Francisco — and its nearly 1 million, mostly liberal residents — are “full of shit.” The only problem with the first part of that statement is that it would be the first thing Trump has said that isn’t, well, incorrect. Poop is a real problem in San Francisco (as is smoke, currently), and it’s so much of a problem that a San Francisco poop map exists, presumably so city dwellers know which alleys to avoid. (Or which alleys will require a nose pinch.)
Called “(Human) Wasteland,” the San Francisco poop map is a project that takes all the “human waste reports” made to 311 in the city and maps them in a few ways. It was reportedly created by a civil engineer-turned-web developer named Jennifer Wong.
Using little poop icons to represent waste reports, the city map is literally littered with human feces. Unfortunately it seems the San Francisco poop map project has ended, as the map stopped tracking the city’s public poop incidents in October 2015.
The problem, though — as any locals or regular visitors will tell you — is very much alive and well.
As for the root of that problem, sure, the occasional drunk frat bro or soccer mom occasionally finds him or herself in a bind. Emergencies happen. But in addition to limited public restrooms within the city — particularly in neighborhoods with the most prevalent public poop, like the Financial District, SoMa and Outer Sunset — homelessness in San Francisco has become a sort of epidemic.
In late 2013, this story by The Bold Italic posited there were more than 10,000 people living on the streets at any given time in San Francisco (and relayed a rather heinous tale from the year prior in which a BART escalator ceased to work because “an excess of human urine and fecal matter had gummed up the gears”). The city’s 2017 “homeless census” revealed that its homeless population hovers around 7,500. (And 30% of San Francisco’s homeless are LGBTQ.)
A few more interesting facts about San Francisco’s homeless population: 69% claim they lived in San Francisco housing prior to becoming homeless; 55% say they’ve been homeless for 10 years or more; 41% say they are addicts; 11% say they have HIV or AIDS. And the top five contributing causes to their homelessness includes emotional abuse, financial issues, conflict with a parent or guardian, mental health issues and physical abuse. It’s all rather tragic.
Though the San Francisco poop map is no longer offering heat maps of the city’s most feces-infested neighborhoods, you can still go there and find a link to to Lava Mae, which provides mobile showers and toilets to the homeless.