Someone stepped in the pile of poo. It's the lunch rush in downtown San Francisco. The rain has cleared, businessmen and women are walking briskly to get a sandwich. Just a few blocks away holiday shoppers peruse fine coats at Burberry or jeans at Saks Fifth Avenue. Tourists can rent a bike next door and pedal across the Golden Gate Bridge. But you can't forget about the poo. You smell it before you see it. There, tucked behind a stone bannister at 427 Mason Street, is a pile of brown. There's a cigarette butt stubbed out in the pile and someone smeared a bit along the sidewalk as they tried to wipe it off their shoe. Around the corner there's another pile. Across the street and down a little ways too. This is the other, stinkier side of San Francisco. For all the opulence and glamor of Twitter, Salesforce, the Google bus, a World Series dynasty and a $7 billion municipal budget, the city's streets and alleys are swamped in ordure. Since July, the city's Public Works Department has received 10,000 requests to steam clean the streets or sidewalks. In half those, according to city data, callers specifically mentioned poop. In one downtown alley, cleaning crews find an average of 30 piles of feces a week. The escalators to underground BART subway stations regularly break down because the gears in the escalator become caked in excrement. In one case, work crews tearing open a broken escalator found so much human feces they had to call in a hazardous-materials team. On warm days, the smell of poop on the street can waft up to the second stories of buildings. Police say they don't have the time or resources to arrest public poopers, and even if they did officers have to catch someone in the act to make an arrest or the accused can just blame it on someone else. Three-person teams of city cleaners actually do work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to spray down and steam clean sidewalks, yet piles still dot sidewalks and alleys in the Tenderloin and Mission District. The few self-cleaning public bathrooms the city installed ten years ago have become hideaways for drug users and prostitutes. A Pooper's Lament "I hate it because I am alway stepping in it," said Joell Walton, 48, who has been living on the streets of the city's Tenderloin neighborhood off-and-on for ten years. Most days if Walton doesn't do his business at the homeless shelter in morning he finds a bathroom at a soup kitchen or service center. Occasionally, Walton said, he's used a few dollars to bribe store owners to let him use their bathroom. The few public bathrooms downtown are too far away or regularly commandeered as private escapes by people using or selling drugs, he said. "The bathrooms, they all close at six o'clock," Walton said. "But, you know you don't really want to use them anyway with all the people that are in there." Just once in his ten years, Walton said, he's gone on the street. "I was on this new medication and I couldn't hold it," he said. "I had to run into an alley behind the building and I went. I felt terrible." By an unofficial count there are just five public restrooms in all of the Tenderloin, said Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director of Coalition on Homelessness, a local advocacy group for the city's poor. While tourists and shoppers can sneak into a hotel or store and use the bathroom many people who don't have access to a bathroom during the day "get turned away because they are poor, and they are black," Friedenbach said. "Human beings do not want to defect or urinate in public. It is not natural and they do so out of desperation because they have no where else to go." Besides the mess, Friedenbach said, people who relieve themselves in city streets can't wash their hands or keep themselves clean. "You don't have soap or water to wash your hands or rinse them," she said. Cracking Down On All The Crapping Is Still Hard Earlier this year city workers spent a month mapping the spots where excrement was spotted in the Tenderloin. The results, announced in a press release, were not surprising. Most of the human waste was found where there's a semblance of privacy off the main thoroughfares, such as alleyways, parking lots, outside of emergency exits and between parked vehicles. In response, the city launched a pilot program to place three bathroom trailers into the areas hardest hit by doo-doo droppers four days a week for seven-hours a day. The trailers contain two private toilets and two sinks, as well as a needle dropoff and a pet waste bag. Unlike other public stalls in the area, each trailer is monitored by a paid worker who gives each user five minutes to do their business before gently knocking and suggesting they move along. Each night the trailers are towed to a city yard and cleaned. The six-toilet program, called the Tenderloin Pit Stop, costs roughly $300,000 a year, said Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works. The beta effort will expire early next year. "People feel it is safe to use them," Gordon said. "Usage has gone up and steam cleaning requests have gone done in area. … We've seen more women using the bathrooms." Last year, there were an average of 27 reports of feces a day in Tenderloin area. Now there are 16 a day, Gordon said. "Combined daily usage of the three toilet (trailers) is 157 for all the toilets a day and that's double what it was in the first weeks," Gordon said. Scott Wiener, a city supervisor who has made clean sidewalks and streets a priority, says that's not enough. "The city has really generally done a poor job in terms of public toilets," Wiener said. "San Francisco really had for a long time not really figured it out." He wants the police to be more vigilant about it as well. "People can violate the law, whether it is crapping or public or another law, and be pretty confident that there will be no ramifications for doing that," Wiener said. "If people have it in their head that there will be no ramifications for what they do, they will keep doing it." A day later the pile of poop with the cigarette butt on Mason Street was gone, likely scooped up and sprayed down by city workers before dawn. But a few doors down, just past another doorway, there was a fresh pile and, most likely, another one tomorrow somewhere close by.