California’s deadliest hepatitis A outbreak in 20 years has claimed the lives of 11 people in San Diego.
The virus disproportionately affects homeless people, because it spreads person-to-person and people living on the streets without easy access to basic amenities like restrooms struggle to maintain typical hygiene standards.
Despite that, a public restroom in the heart of a major homeless encampment in East Village remains locked day and night. Homeless people are allowed to go into the restaurant where the bathroom is housed to ask for a key, but many don’t know they have the option and others say restaurant workers often flatly refuse.
Lisa Halverstadt talked to some homeless people in the area, including one who has contracted hepatitis A, about the struggle to find clean restrooms in East Village.
A city spokesperson, once contacted by Voice of San Diego, said the city will put out a sign making clear that the restroom is available to whoever wants it, and reiterate with restaurant ownership that it is obligated to operate the restroom for the entire public.
The restroom went on lockdown in the first place because it was attracting crime. But the developers of the nearby Pinnacle towers – that big yellow one that looks like it’s still under construction – got permission to make their project taller and add more apartments by agreeing to build Fault Line Park and the restroom as public amenities.