Downtown wants to be a place where people can get out of their cars and go for long walks — tourists, office workers, residents. But if they walk, they’ll need restrooms. And for years, there’s been a conflicting urge: Let’s not make the homeless too comfortable by installing easy-to-access public restrooms.
Now city officials are scrambling to address a problem they have acknowledged for years: We don’t have enough bathrooms. A deadly outbreak of hepatitis A has them panicked. It is said to be the second-largest outbreak in the United States. since a vaccination became available 22 years ago. The outbreak, which has killed 16 and sickened hundreds, is linked to poor hygiene and lack of restrooms.
Meanwhile, the city’s new bleach-enhanced cleaning of “fecally contaminated” streets and sidewalks is garnering unwanted national and international attention.
County officials warned patrons of a Pacific Beach restaurant they might have been exposed. It may not be long until late-night hosts hear about this and give us a new motto.
New portable restrooms and hand-washing stations are appearing downtown. But what happened, or failed to happen, earlier? The city “hit debacle after debacle even in far less urgent attempts to add them,” reports our Lisa Halverstadt in a new story.
The glitches continue, she notes. A high-profile “Portland Loo” at Park Boulevard and Market Street, near the downtown library, vanished earlier this month. Meanwhile, some of the homeless say they avoid 10 toilets at Father Joe’s Villages because they’re filthy. “I’d rather use a bucket,” one said.