Water repellent coatings are often applied to objects like rain jackets, car windshields, and electronics with the intent to keep them dry. Entertainingly, the city of San Francisco recently coated walls of local buildings with this material to do just the opposite; to get people wet! It is a well-known fact that public urination is a smelly problem that plagues the streets of San Francisco. In attempts to clean up the streets walls are coated with a superhydrophobic material to reflect pee back onto the perpetrator, getting them wet and discouraging them from current and future attempts. The walls work. According to Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, “it seems to be 95% successful” (1). With such success the problem of public urination appears to be on its way to being solved. Some claim, however, this method it too expensive as estimates run “about $200 to apply to each wall” (2). Although coating walls in this material does appear expensive the paint need not cover every building, only the most trafficked walls. In addition, a surprising amount of requests for street cleaning services in 2015 (3) indicates high street cleaning costs. If more of the walls in San Francisco are coated, fewer dollars will go toward paying for the cleanup services and can instead go toward the paint. San Francisco’s use of superhydrophobic material was clearly innovative as it solved a problem in a cost effective way. This creative use of a common material now directs pee primed people to the several new public privies set up by public officials.
- Dier, Arden. “San Francisco’s pee-repelling walls are really making a splash.” USA Today, 06 Oct., 2015. Web. 08 Sept., 2016.
- Lee, Dave. “Anti-pee wall in San Francisco makes a splash.” BBC News, 04 Aug., 2015. Web. 08 Sept., 2016.
- Johnson, Lizzie. “Pee on these S.F. walls? Be prepared for them to pee back.” SFGATE, 24 July 2015. Web. 08 Sept., 2016.
- “Water Repellant Suede.” N.d. Photograph. Onkytca Group. Web. 08 Sept., 2016.