San Francisco taxpayers will foot the bill for a public bathroom in the Golden Gate Park Boat Playground that cost $2 million to build – more than $4,700 per square foot of the 15-foot by 28-foot gender-neutral facility.
In another city project, a 600-square-foot kiosk at the Civic Center Plaza also had total project costs of $2 million, equivalent to $3,300 per square foot.
“To put those numbers in perspective,” the San Francisco Business Times wrote February 8, “One Steuart Lane, an ultra-high-end condo tower … will need to hit the market at around $2,500 per square foot for its developers to break even. Or take a custom luxury mansion of the kind developed by Troon Pacific. CEO Gregory Malin said his costs per square foot range from $2,000 to $3,000.”
Another private developer told the newspaper: “$1,500 per square foot is like, you’re on Embarcadero with views.”
Major factors driving up the costs of public construction included regulations and hiring requirements that do not apply to private construction.
“When you use city money, it’s a really rigorous process” involving a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy, one developer said. “In a hot market like this, contractors have a lot of options and the higher the regulatory burden, the fewer will bid and the higher prices will be.”
The Business Times noted that those who bid on city contracts are required to award a certain percentage of work to local business enterprises and minority-owned businesses, and local hiring mandates require that 30 percent of all work hours must be completed by workers who live in San Francisco and 15 percent by “disadvantaged workers,” as defined by the city.