Clearly, “spend a penny” no longer applies!

Back in the day, a common British expression was “to spend a penny”.  This referred to the coin needed to operate the doors on public toilets, and indicated that one had to do one’s business there.  However, looking at the cost of public toilets in these United States today (or, at least, parts thereof), I should think a Krugerrand or other gold coin would be the modern equivalent!

In ’08, a San Francisco Weekly article fumed that a park restroom in Golden Gate Park was costing taxpayers $531,219. Fast forward, a decade later the cost of a park restroom in the Golden Gate Boathouse had ballooned to $2 million or $4,700 per square foot.

The modern bathroom had a third All-Gender option that the ’08 bathroom didn’t. But adding a non-gender shouldn’t have quadrupled the price. Inflation would have kept the cost well below a million.

Why did a 15-foot by 28-foot bathroom cost millions? Part of the answer may be that San Fran privileges minority businesses and requires that 15% of work hours be carried out by “disadvantaged” workers.

New York City’s bathrooms were always pricey. In ’08, they ran to a million. A recent report noted that the overpriced real estate market had pulled off a new high with a $6 million bathroom. Fit not only for a king, but for Steve Austin. The bionic bathroom is a new record. Last year’s record was a $4.7 million bathroom in the Bronx. An average park bathroom in the Big Apple now runs to $3.6 million … You can still pick up a Central Park West condo with multiple rooms for the cost of a public bathroom on Staten Island.

. . .

It’s not impossible to build public restrooms more affordably. Carolina Beach is looking at 12 stalls for $120,000. Plumbing can be expensive, but it’s not that expensive. The rising cost of bathrooms isn’t due to a shortage, but to a combination of corruption and incompetence with local governments drawing up sweetheart deals and imposing regulatory burdens so that only a handful of contractors get the jobs.

Costs are raised by everything from an insistence on dealing only with minority contractors, to mandates imposed on contractors that raise their expenses, to deals with contractors made by politicians who are in their pockets, to the cost of meeting assorted local regulations. Activists complain that there ought to be more money in city budgets for the poor, when the money is being siphoned by regulations that are supposedly meant to help the poor, but in reality help contractors gouge taxpayers for more money.

. . .

At some point, the toilet bubble will burst. But for now, billions of dollars nationwide are being wasted on building public toilets that cost more than mansions do in some parts of the country.

There’s more at the link.

Does one need to hand over one’s tax returns in order to use those toilets, to prove that one makes enough (and pays enough tax) to justify one’s presence in them?  One wonders . . .



  1. No need to show your tax returns. If you live in those areas, your taxes already went to pay for the cost-overruns, kickbacks, donations, and sweetheart deals involved in making crappers at gold-plated prices.

    Besides, if you had to show you paid taxes, how would all the junkies using the bathrooms to go to shoot up get in?

  2. Does the price of restrooms explain why, in most businesses (like restaurants and coffee houses) and public facilities (like libraries and the like) most of them have just one bathroom in the whole place with only one or two toilets for 50 or more customers/patrons?

    How, exactly, are restrooms so expensive to build and maintain? How are they so pricey compared to any of the other amenities provided by commercial/public places?

  3. I REALLY don't want to be anywhere in the vicinity of a public restroom when the "toilet bubble" bursts. Just sayin'.

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