San Francisco tackles public urination with pee-repelling walls covered in hydrophobic paint

Clara Guibourg
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Hydrophobic paint repels any liquid (Source: Getty)

Drunken revellers tempted to relieve themselves against a wall in San Francisco had better think twice, or they’re likely to get a very nasty surprise.

Sick of overly-refreshed party-goers weeing al fresco, the city is tackling public urination - with the help of hi-tech paint. San Francisco Public Works is covering nine walls - we imagine exactly which ones will remain a tightly guarded secret - with "hydrophobic" paint which makes any liquid bounce back. If anyone urinates on these treated walls, the spray will splash back onto them.

A sign over one of the walls reads “Hold it! This wall is not a public restroom. Please respect San Francisco and seek relief in an appropriate place" - but doesn't reveal what will happen to those who ignore its message. Public Works' director Mohammed Nuru told the SF Gate:

Nobody wants to smell urine. We are trying different things to try to make San Francisco smell nice and look beautiful.

According to San Francisco Public Works, it costs “several hundred dollars” per wall to coat them with the paint.

Initially, only the party neighbourhoods of Mission and Soma will receive the treatment, but several other areas of the city are already clamouring for it, so if the project works out well it will be expanded.

Whether this splashback is just a comical city-level prank on revellers with weak bladders or a useful way of combating public urination remains to be seen. But perhaps London should be looking west for inspiration?