Revamped toilets to open at Portsmouth Square 

click to enlarge Revamped toilets, five in the men’s room, six in the women’s room and one in a separate family room, have been completed at Portsmouth Square park in Chinatown. - COURTESY OF RECREATION AND PARK DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy of Recreation and Park Department
  • Revamped toilets, five in the men’s room, six in the women’s room and one in a separate family room, have been completed at Portsmouth Square park in Chinatown.

During Saturday's Chinese New Year Parade, Chinatown power broker Rose Pak promised to talk "toilet" politics and she stuck to her word — literally.

When Mayor Ed Lee walked by the parade review stand, Pak announced she would wait until he joined other dignitaries on the stands before "goat-ing and ram-ing" him, her joking way of using this year's Chinese zodiac animals as verbs for bringing up concerns on the conditions of park toilets.

"All of you know for years we have had lousy toilets at Portsmouth Square and for years, ever since [Lee] was the head of the Department of Public Works we have been after the mayor," Pak said, adding that the she found out from the contractor that the park's toilets had already been fixed.

The contractor, Robert Chiang, Pak said, "kept on telling me The City, the mayor did not want to open until after Chinese New Year, so I said, 'What kind of toilet logic is that?' You want to build up the toilets for the public to use them for the most critical event."

Lee jokingly responded that he was waiting for Pak to be the first one to use the toilets, an answer she did not find amusing.

Chinatown community advocates had hoped the new toilets — five in the men's room, six in the women's room and one in a separate family room — would be ready in time for the Chinese New Year festivities that started in mid-February, or for the annual parade at the latest. The activists deduced that the delay on opening the restrooms was owed to city officials' desire to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony, as they customarily do.

Chiang, whose company was awarded the $1.12 million contract for the work, confirmed the toilet renovations were completed "before Saturday."

Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg on Monday told The San Francisco Examiner the restrooms were "completed within the last week or two" but that there's "a punch list of things" that still need to be fixed by the contractor, such as tile issues and touch-ups. "We made a judgment call because we wanted the asset to be preserved," he said. "We wanted the community to have access to it first and save it from the impact of the parade. The call was really intended to be sensitive to the community."

The department hopes to open the facility "by Wednesday at the latest," according to spokeswoman Sarah Ballard. No details on the nature of the opening were provided on Monday.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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