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“legislation would create a plan for the District to provide public restroom facilities”

by Prince Of Petworth January 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm 18 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Susan Bird

From a press release:

“In an effort to provide dignified facilities for residents experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable populations, Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau introduced legislation today that would create a plan for the District to provide public restroom facilities, and create incentives for businesses that make restrooms available to the public. Nadeau is the Chair of the Human Services Committee which has oversight of the Interagency Council on Homelessness. The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Silverman, White, Allen, and Bonds.

“Lack of access to public restrooms is an issue which affects many residents, but its effects are particularly felt by residents experiencing homeless and people with unique restroom needs such as pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly,” said Nadeau. “This bill will create a thoughtful plan that helps our most vulnerable populations.”

The bill authorizes a task force to research and prepare recommendations for installing public restrooms in the District. The task force will make specific proposals, such as site location and pricing, which could serve as a roadmap for future installation of public restroom facilities. Many major world cities in Europe and Asia readily provide public restrooms, and large U.S. cities have increasingly sought to provide restroom access for all.

A copy of the bill as introduced is available here.”

  • tito jackson

    Can’t count how many times I’ve caught people of all sorts pissing on my street and in alleys in my neighborhood. I live next door to an overcrowded house where people literally pour urine out of their windows into their front yards. During the summer mosquitoes are always out of control, and the smell is often unbearable.

    I can’t stand to see commercial franchises and places in the city that use code locks on the bathroom doors. People throw dog waste in regular trash cans, and that stays around for weeks quite often because of trash collection delays. Alleys are also filthy so often now that it doesn’t even make sense to try to walk through them. Something should really be done to curb human waste, it’s at epidemic levels in DC, and who knows the health impacts.

    • TropicBird

      So…I take it you live in Columbia Heights?

  • Steve F

    Why try to sell this as a thing for those experiencing homelessness? Everybody appreciates having public restrooms around, and usually the reason people might object is because of either cost or “unsavorables” using the restrooms.

    I’ve made use of public facilities in Europe and like the idea of having them here. Just don’t get the selling point being used.

    • anon

      Yeah. I would hope these were maintained well enough for anyone to use them, and not just the desperate. Infrastructure is generally best maintained when the destitute are an ancillary (though real) beneficiary, and not the only one. And it’s nice to be able to easily pee when out and about.

    • JohnH

      It’s an interesting press release. Nothing about tourists either (and there are NOT a lot of restrooms on the mall).
      I feel like plopping a few public restrooms across the city doesn’t really help – unless you’re truly blanketing the city with them (doubt it). I’ve had a homeless person take a dump in the alley behind my house on multiple occassions – doubt I’ll have a public restroom near me that will mitigate that problem.

  • markus parkus

    I get the thought here, but it just never works in practice. San Francisco spent millions installing French style self-cleaning toilets, only to completely shutter them months later – and SF has a far higher tolerance for filth than DC…

    Curious to see what is different or new than has been tried dozens of times before and failed, otherwise, seems like a waste of money in the making.

  • Linc Park SE

    There are plenty of places to pee in DC – libraries, stores, any Starbucks (they do not limit access to customers only) , hotels, law firm lobbies, gov buildings, museums- I dont really see how this is a problem.

    • John

      My sense is that public defecation is not due to the lack of bathrooms but usually a symptom of something else, which ranges significantly from the relatively benign and generally manageable (e.g. incontinence) to the more complicated and problematic (e.g. mental health or drug abuse).

    • anon

      What? Many Starbucks do have keypads/locks that only allow customers to use their bathrooms. I’ve seen employees kick out people who look homeless. Government buildings (and most private office buildings) have security and don’t allow just anyone in – it’s not like their bathrooms are next to the front door.

    • stcohi

      Law firm lobbies? I’m stopped by security and asked my business at nearly every office building I enter, and I’m usually wearing a suit. I look the part. I can’t imagine a homeless person is just going to waltz in and use a bathroom. Maybe you can sneak by in a hotel, but you better believe the front desk/concierge is keeping their eyes peeled for people who obviously aren’t guests.

    • on the contrary

      As someone diagnosed with Over Active Bladder (OAB), I can tell you that bathrooms in DC are not as readily available as you might think. Other than libraries, every one of your examples usually involves bypassing security, purchasing items, or pleading/lying to employees. Often times it is too late. Just because you are able to find an available restroom in time, doesn’t mean those specified above (who the bill is actually for) can.

  • DClandlord

    One would hope the district would invest in something like this: http://theloo.biz/#design

    I also wonder where these would go in DC…guessing DC-owned parks/random pocket parks but K Street medians and metro stations might also be good locations

    • Anonymous

      Ha ha. “Hey, quiet down out there, I can’t concentrate”.

  • katemc

    Every week, without fail, the same garbage truck would pull over on my block and the refuse workers would avail themselves of our alley. Every week. Road workers enjoyed it, too.

    • textdoc

      Ugh — that’s terrible.
      Was this a city garbage truck, or a private hauler?

  • Contessa of Cleveland Park

    Great photo, Prince!

  • TropicBird

    They think they mean public bathrooms but what happens is it turns into a place to shoot heroin

  • Brightwoodian

    I’d like to support this but we already spend a fortune on housing homeless in DC. I’m afraid of what those bathrooms are going to look like though and how well they will be maintained. DC has a huge tourist industry. I have a feeling we will have a bunch of confused tourists that think DC doesn’t maintain their public restrooms. I’m also worried the restrooms will just become a drug den.


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