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Photo of Matt M. McClenahen
Photo of Matt M. McClenahen

Cities Fight Public Urination by Spraying Back

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2015 | Public Urination


Public Urination has gotten so bad in San Francisco that the city is now coating walls in a special type of paint, which sprays urine back onto the perpetrator. How bad is bad? How about so bad that a three-story-tall light post collapsed because it was corroded by years of human and canine urine. This must rank up there with the Cuyahoga River catching on fire in terms of pollution-caused absurdities!

San Francisco has always reminded me of Hamburg, as both cities are hedonistic, leftist bastions filled with enough port city decadence to satisfy even legendary booze hounds of yore Mark Twain and Hans Albers, the famous German singer and actor who once quipped that he downed enough alcohol in his lifetime to float a battleship. Thus, it comes as no surprise that San Fran took the idea of urine-deflecting paint from the Hamburg neighborhood of St. Pauli, Europe’s largest red light district, which is home to numerous drinking establishments, strip clubs, brothels, swingers clubs, bars where the not-yet-famous Beatles were once the house band and the legendary, anti-authoritarian, cult, hipster football club known as FC St. Pauli.

Of course, San Fran and Hamburg are not the only places where public urination is a matter of local concern. Public urination has long been a source of ire among many State College residents, especially in the Highlands Neighborhood. This mixed neighborhood, a short walk from downtown, is home to rowdy Penn State frat houses in close proximity to families and retired people. In fact, so many State College residents have griped about public urination that the Borough Council enacted a local ordinance, which calls for a maximum fine of $600 for public urination, whereas the disorderly conduct statute under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code only allows for a maximum fine of $300.

One would think that the angry adult citizens of State College may be interested in adopting the St. Pauli and San Francisco approach, but I do not think it would work here, as we have a completely different “public urination culture,” in our booze-guzzling college town than that of the two booze-guzzling port cities. Drunken Penn Staters and their out-of-town guests tend to pee behind bushes and trees and into the ground, not against buildings or any other surface, which could be painted. Thus, the $600 fine and having an embarrassing public urination charge pop up on a background check will have to be deterrent enough to curtail public urination in State College.

Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. He has represented his share of public urination defendants over the years.

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