SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The city of San Francisco spent a $35,000 Community Challenge Grant on a prototype public urinal designed to decrease public urination in the Tenderloin District.

The toilet, which cost an estimated $180,000, is an effort by city leaders and environmentalists to combat rampant public urination in the Tenderloin by offering a free public bathroom. But unlike simple portable toilets, the new bathrooms will be used to create a “nutrient-rich plant irrigation system,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The so-called “P-planter” works by diluting nitrogen and phosphorus from the urine in a tank of water, filtering out the smell of ammonia, and pumping the finished product into a large container of bamboo. Theoretically, the installation will reduce the smell of urine in the neighborhood while also creating an urban green space.

Public Works Department officials have yet to endorse the planter as a resolution to the city’s public urination problem, but if the pilot installation proves successful, similar public toilets could one day pop up in other locations throughout the city.

The project, officially known as the Tenderloin Public Toilet Project, is temporarily installed on Ellis Street while permits are obtained for a permanent home near the Glide Memorial Church.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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