Public urinators, beware!
In at least two cities, a new approach to discourage peeing in inappropriate places could leave public urinators wet and smelly. San Francisco, CA and Hamburg, Germany have both applied pee-repellent paint to walls where beer-drinkers and others with impatient bladders can’t be bothered to find a bathroom.
How does paint prevent improper peeing? The surfaces are coated with Ultra-Ever Dry, a product that makes urine spray right back onto the shoes and pants of unsuspecting relief-seekers. Ultra-Ever Dry is made by Florida-based UltraTech. The chemical cleanup and waste management company describes the product as “a superhydrophobic (water) and oleophobic (hydrocarbons) coating that will repel most water-based and some oil-based liquids. Ultra-Ever Dry uses proprietary omniphobic technology to coat an object and create a surface chemistry and texture with patterns of geometric shapes that have ‘peaks’ or ‘high points.’ These high points repel water, some oils, wet concrete, and other liquids unlike any other coating.”
Public urination has long been a problem in San Francisco. Legislation banning it was passed in 2002, but hasn’t been very effective despite a $50-to-$500 fine. The pee-repellent paint has proved to be effective in the hard-partying St. Pauli quarter of Hamburg, which is how it caught the attention of San Francisco officials.
In San Francisco, Public Works crews have coated nine city walls with the pee-repellant paint and more are in the works. Posted on treated walls is a sign reading, “Hold it! This wall is not a public restroom. Please respect San Francisco and seek relief in an appropriate place.” However, the sign doesn’t explain exactly why choosing that particular place to pee is a bad idea. In Hamburg, the signs are more direct: “DO NOT PEE HERE! We pee back.”
“We are piloting it to see if we can discourage people from peeing at many of our hot spots,” Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Nobody wants to smell urine. We are trying different things to try to make San Francisco smell nice and look beautiful.”
“Based on Hamburg, we know this pilot program is going to work,” Nuru said. “It will reduce the number of people using the walls. I really think it will deter them.”