New product aiming to deter GJ public urinators
Anyone who gets the urge to relieve themselves against a wall in a dark, secluded alley somewhere in town rather than look for a restroom might want to rethink their decision. That wall might just relieve itself back on them.
Grand Junction-based Colorado Wash Services has brought a new product to town that, when applied to a surface, repels any liquid that touches it.
While it has other uses, hydrophobic paint has garnered attention for punishing and deterring public urinators in places such as Germany and San Francisco. An online search turns up plenty of security videos of someone relieving themselves on a wall, only to find himself wet as the urine bounces back on him.
Colorado Wash Services owner Zach Rangel heard about hydrophobic paint and, always excited about new technology, decided to order some and give it a try by testing it on some cinder blocks.
He hasn’t been marketing the product, but had one client give it a try after repeatedly washing their walls that had been soiled several times in recent months.
The client declined to be identified and to be interviewed through Rangel, who said there was some apprehension that some bold people might want to give his wall a try.
However, Rangel thinks there could be more of a market for what is affectionately referred to as “pee paint.”
“Especially with the downtown core, we have so many bars in the vicinity of each other,” Rangel said. “Especially during college season they have more mayhem just being so close to each other. There’s people walking around and it’s easy to slip into an alley.”
So how does this “pee paint” work? According to Rangel, the paint is mostly clear — there could appear to be a slight discoloration — and is made from chemicals that keep liquids from sticking to any surface. If it’s a flat surface, the liquid will come together and pancake, but not soak into the surface.
“It literally will repel any liquid of any kind. It stands up to acidic substances for a while,” Rangel said. “It doesn’t allow liquid to bond with the surface. If liquid does freeze, it’s small enough that it supports water staying on it.”
Rangel added that he has had interest from some businesses that wanted to use the paint to make for easy ice removal on any surface. Since the ice would freeze on top of the paint, it could simply be brushed away easily.
The downside, however, is that it doesn’t last forever and it’s not cheap.
Rangel said that the paint will typically last between six to 10 months depending on how much direct sunlight the area receives. It costs between $2 to $8 per square foot to apply, depending on the surface, which could see bills reach upward of $800, even just for a strip on a wall about 4 feet off the ground.
While Grand Junction doesn’t have problems with public urination by comparison to places like San Francisco and Hamburg, Germany, Grand Junction police issued 80 citations in 2016 for public urination and have given 26 as of Aug. 15 this year. And those are just to people who were caught.
Officer Dustin Bovee said many of the citations are issued at night, particularly in the summer when it’s warm outside and the bars let out. North Avenue, the downtown area and city parks are the most common areas, and the transient population is another common culprit.
“I’d say you get urinating in public throughout the day, (and it) typically goes up at night with the downtown bar crowd,” Bovee said.
Bovee said the city and the department has used Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) to try and curb problems like this and cited the public restrooms on Fifth Avenue just south of Main Street as an example. The restrooms give people a place to relieve themselves and also blasts children’s music to keep people from lingering.
Bovee said he had heard of hydrophobic paint and has encouraged businesses to give it a try if they are having problems.
“We have mentioned it, other cities have implemented it. We’ve seen it there,” Bovee said. “It could be a good product depending on where you put it.”
Rangel does not have much hydrophobic paint in stock at the moment as it hasn’t been a big part of his business. However, he said he’s always looking at new things to move his business forward.
Mostly the business focuses on power washing, but recently added a trash-can cleaning service that will rinse out dirty receptacles and take away the dirty water.
If hydrophobic paint becomes a bigger part of his business, he’ll be happy to keep experimenting.
“I love it when someone comes to me and says no one has been able to do this,” Rangel said. “Technology and adapting has helped us with the business and keeps us on the cutting edge.”