Notorious San Francisco: J.C. Decaux Toilets
This toilet at Market and Castro is one of 24 installed around town in the mid-1990s by the French company J.C. Decaux as part of a deal with the City. After a protracted political and budget battle it was agreed that J.C. Decaux would maintain the toilets in exchange for some financial consideration and the right to install its advertising kiosks here as well. Those are also visible around town. Mayor Frank Jordan inaugurated San Francisco's first J.C. Decaux pissoir in June of 1995. Both the kiosks and the toilets are of a classic design. They look, well, kind of elegant and decidedly French. The problem is, at 25 cents, the high tech toilets instantly became the cheapest room in town for anyone needing a few square yards of privacy in which to shoot drugs or turn a trick, alone or with friends. Adding to the problem are frequent breakdowns, iffy maintenance by J.C. Decaux, and an accommodation for the disabled that provides for toilet time of 20 minutes. The J.C. Decaux toilets in Paris operate for 10 minutes per visit and cost almost twice as much as ours to enter. Paris has not seen the problems we've had with them. On April 13, 2001, James Ramaley became the first person reported to have died in a J.C. Decaux toilet, the Castro Street loo pictured here. Ramaley, a homeless heroin addict known as Alex, came here to shoot up with at least three friends. The friends left Ramaley in the toilet after he nodded off. About an hour later he was found by a passing stranger. Ramaley was dead in the public toilet, a needle sticking out of his neck. 

Copyright 2001 Hank Donat home