San Francisco: Where the Walls Pee Back

It’s a product of Ultra Tech International, a company based in Florida with manufacturing facilities in Ohio. Ultra Tech’s mission, since it was founded in 1993, has been to create products that help contain oil spills, facilitate wastewater management and even transport radioactive material.

Evidently Ultra Tech never imagined its Ultra Ever Dry would be used to keep the walls of San Francisco pee-less, but necessity is the mother of invention.

A statement on the company’s website claims “Ultra Ever Dry is 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.”

The company also claims “Ultra Ever Dry has vastly improved adhesion and abrasion resistance, compared to previous superhydrophobic technologies, allowing it to be used in applications where greater durability is required.”

San Francisco Public Works crews have painted nine of the most peed-upon walls in the city with Ultra Ever Dry and are just waiting for some guy to try to relieve himself.

“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.”

San Francisco is not the first municipality to try this paint. It was first used in Hamburg, Germany, where it has cut down on public urination.

Of course painting the walls and then posting signs that read “Hold it! This wall is not a public restroom – please respect San Francisco and seek relief in an appropriate place” doesn’t come cheap. Each painted and signed wall costs $200.

But Nuru said it should be worth it in the long run.

“We will send people to see, visually, if there are any wet signs to indicate urination has happened,” he said. “We will also use our natural nose to smell and see if urine is there. If it seems to work, we will continue it after the pilot phase ends."