SAN FRANCISCO—The Department of Public Works has painted nine walls in San Francisco with urine-resistant paint in the hopes of deterring public urination. If the pilot program proves successful, more walls will be painted in the future.

Director of Public Works Mohammed Nuru discusses new urine-resistant walls in "hot spot" areas
Director of Public Works Mohammed Nuru discusses new urine-resistant walls in “hot spot” areas

Mohammed Nuru, Public Works Director, told The San Francisco Chronicle that they want to discourage people from relieving themselves on public walls. “We are piloting it to see if we can discourage people from peeing at many of our hot spots,” he said, “Nobody wants to smell urine. We are trying different things to try to make San Francisco smell nice and look beautiful.”

Nuru went to 16th Street to demonstrate the new paint. On the wall, a sign now reads, “Hold it! This wall is not a public restroom. Please respect San Francisco and seek relief in an appropriate place.” Despite the warning, it does not tell people that the new paint will splash liquids back onto the perpetrator.

To demonstrate its effectiveness, Nuru sprayed water from a plastic bottle on the wall, only to have the wall repel the water back at him, soaking his pants.

The walls are coated with Ultra-Ever Dry, one of the proprietary paints from Ultra-Tech, a Florida-based company. The paint creates a surface that violently repels all water-based and some oil-based liquids. This type of paint was used in Hamburg to similarly deter public urinators, and was proven successful.

Paint and installation cost a couple hundred dollars per wall. Nine walls in “hot spot” areas like the Tenderloin, Mission and South of Market regions have been treated with the urine-resistant paint. More walls are slated to painted in August.

San Francisco has long-standing public urination trouble. Despite fines, ranging from $50-$500, public urination continues to be a consistent problem.

The city is hoping that this new wall-paint program will be a more effective deterrent than the fines. According to Nuru, they will be using their senses to judge the progress. Success will mean the reduced smell of urine, people with soaked pants, etc.