General Media Coverage

Informational Media Coverage

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Democratic National Convention

When you gotta go, you gotta go – unless you’re in town for the Democratic National Convention.
Party-hearty Democrats may have to hold it or commune with the great outdoors of downtown … …Boston’s handful of public toilets shut down at 5 p.m. sharp – long before the 35,000 convention-goers stagger into the streets after last call in local bars…. …“The people who live around here, they’re going to have people urinating in their back yards or against their walls or behind their businesses,” City Councilor Maura A. Hennigan said. “Very unpleasant.” … .

Source: Boston Herald – Toilet crunch to make Dems do `business’ elsewhere By Elisabeth J. Beardsley,   Thursday, July 15, 2004  © Boston Herald

… Members of the media… …waited in several hour long lines for security and were amazed to find themselves back in line – for the bathroom.  “That’s absurd,” said Jim Drinkard, a political reporter for USA Today, when he heard of the ratio of toilets to media members…. …”the lack of toilets was a move aimed at cutting costs”… …members of the media stood in line for one of 20 portable restrooms…

Source: Boston Herald “Toilet deficit for DNC media”  By David R. Guarino and Andrew Miga 7/25/04

BOSTON – Media members, already perturbed by long security lines, may find themselves waiting in line for something nearly as important…  … Twenty portable restrooms… …to service nearly 1,200 members of the print media who will be working around the clock. That’s about 60 serious coffee-drinkers per toilet.  “That’s absurd,” said Jim Drinkard,  he was told by the DNCC, the committee in charge of planning the convention, that the lack of toilets was a move aimed at cutting costs. …

Source: Associated Press Media Upset With DNC Restroom Facilities by Brian Johnson 7/24/04

… Seattle has been waiting years for the high-tech toilets. Councils and mayors have debated the issue. It’s  been a topic on the campaign trail. Made in Germany, and leased by the city, the public restrooms are expected to cost a total of about $600,000 a year. They will be paid for through sewer revenues. Since the 1980s, Seattle business owners have said the lack of public restrooms was the top issue facing downtown…  [deleted text] …    “These facilities are self-cleaning, safe, well-situated throughout the city and are free for anyone to use,” said Licata. “They will be beneficial to local businesses because tourists, shoppers, residents and the homeless are equally accommodated.”  Washington state law prohibits charging people to use public restrooms. The gleaming chambers that opened yesterday are intended for anyone who can’t head right home when nature calls. They could be a salvation to the elderly, parents with children, and the homeless. …

[deleted text]Source: Seattle-Post Intelligencer “At last, relief is in sight as plush public potties open downtown”  Tuesday, March 2, 2004 By Kathy Mulady  © 1998-2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
PLYMOUTH — City officials trying to get more people to come downtown are finding they are in short supply of an essential commodity — the restroom.   The lack of public restrooms has become a pressing issue in Plymouth. Thousands of people visit the city each year for events like the annual Ice Festival, summer concerts and food festivals, but there’s a shortage of restrooms to accommodate them. …


It’s a major problem,” said city Commissioner Dan Dwyer. “We spend a lot of time and energy promoting our downtown — then when people get here, there’s no place for them to use the bathroom. Most of our downtown events are geared toward families, and people who have small children need to be able to get to a bathroom quickly.”  The changing role of downtowns has contributed to the same problem in other communities, said Lori Ward, director of the Northville Downtown Development Authority.  “This never used to be a big issue,” Ward said. “But over the past few years, downtowns have gone back to their old role as entertainment centers…

“We picked the best spot we could, taking safety, the potential for vandalism and access into consideration,” …

“That’s something everybody always talks about — that there aren’t enough bathrooms,” …

Visitors who trek into local businesses in search of a restroom often don’t find much luck. “During the festivals, it’s a constant request,” said Russ Webster, owner of Penniman Deli, which has stood near Kellogg Park for 25 years. “Once the place is full, I have to turn people away. I hate to do it, but what  happens is, there’ll be a long line of people right through the deli, and my customers can’t use the restroom unless they wait in that long line, too.” …

“People have been wanting this for quite awhile,” Ward said.

The issue

New York City has had a chronic lack of public restrooms for more than a century. In 1898, the very first pamphlet put out by the watchdog group Citizens Union decried the city’s lack of public toilets. And in the classic 1936 novel, “Black Spring,” author Henry Miller wrote of the city’s lack of facilities: “I know that I am in distress when I walk the streets of New York. Wondering constantly where the next stop will be and if I can hold out that long.”   In other countries, the public toilet situation is better than in the United States. More than 600 cities around the globe have automatic public toilets. Singapore alone has 750, London 678, and Athens 500.  San Francisco is probably the most progressive city as far as public restrooms are concerned. The Golden Gate city began its street toilet program five years ago. There are 24 available public toilets downtown that average 80 uses per day; they offer 20 minutes of toilet time for 25 cents. The coin revenue doesn’t pay for the $200,000 cost of the toilet, or for its daily maintenance; to cover the rest of the costs, the company sells advertising in the bathrooms. Other cities are following San Francisco’s lead. Boston has approved plans for construction of new public toilets while both Los Angeles and Chicago are currently looking over proposals. Access to public restrooms is an issue that has long been at the center of debate:
Source: The Public Restroom Initiative, an advocacy group trying to increase the number of public restrooms.

Source: The Detroit News “Communities want to add restrooms to downtowns – Visitors frustrated by lack of facilities ” By George Hunter / 3/26/02    © 2002 Detroit News
Haven’t we all been there? You’re walking around in a busy tourist community. You need to use a restroom. The only available facilities are inside the shops and restaurants. And they all have signs on the front door saying, “No Public Restroom,” or “Restroom for Customers Only.”

As a problem, it may not rank with world hunger, but it’s a problem nonetheless.  Bob Brubaker is trying to address it. He’s the founder and chief advocate of Metroped (, a non-profit group dedicated to making life more livable for people who walk, bicycle and exercise, especially in urban areas.

Metroped causes include the Public Restroom Initiative, an effort to pass legislation requiring adequate sanitary facilities in public places like downtown districts, ball fields, and mass transit systems. He believes that portable sanitation can be a significant part of the solution. He shared his thoughts in a Pumper Interview.

Pumper: Why is the Public Initiative important?

Brubaker: First of all, there’s a small but significant percent of the population who suffer medical problems that cause them to need to use a restroom frequently. The entertainment industry often portrays as humorous someone hunched in urgent need of a toilet. In reality, this extreme duress is painful and often harmful.

Think of people who have bowel or bladder disorders, people who contract food poisoning, or women who experience irregular cycles. We want to make life better for people who are constrained in where they work, what they do and where and how they travel by lack of public accommodations.

Pumper: Is Metroped dedicated solely for that group of people?

Brubaker: Not at all. Almost anyone suffers at one time or another from the lack of public restrooms – in central business districts, in athletic areas, in transit stations. This not only causes discomfort. It can act as an impediment to certain activities that are healthy for individuals as well as for society.

Pumper: For example?

Brubaker: Take mass transit. I think we can agree that’s something that as a society we should encourage. There are commuters who every day walk or drive to a train station, then get off and walk or ride a bus to their workplace. Often, these can be very long commutes without access to a restroom. Studies show that people who have any concern about possibly needing a restroom on the way to work feel more comfortable in their cars. So those people are going to be deterred from using mass transit.

One other example: Our nation is becoming obese. The National Institutes of Health have been tasked to do something about that. It has been pretty well proven in the past that simply promoting fitness doesn’t work. In looking at impediments to exercise and fitness, studies have found that the biggest concerns are safety and security. But another impediment tends to be toilet access. The lack of public restrooms is an environmental impediment to fitness and better health.

Pumper: Why do we need legislation to correct this problem?

Brubaker: Legislation where it is in place is very powerful. OSHA, for example, requires adequate restroom facilities on work sites, but OSHA’s authority ends at the boundary of the workplace. If operate certain kinds of businesses, the law requires you to provide restrooms for your customers. If you’re operating a special event, local policies will require you to have temporary sanitary facilities.

Pumper: Why do you suppose so many downtown districts have inadequate public restrooms?

Brubaker: Perhaps it’s because they had problems with them. They can become hangouts. You can get vandalism, stopped up plumbing. They cost money to maintain.

Pumper: How do you see portable sanitation providing a solution?

Brubaker: I think the idea of putting a portable restroom in a parking lot with a service contract would be attractive to communities. It’s inexpensive. It’s a known cost. You don’t have to worry about plugged drains. It’s not going to become a place for drug transaction. In some cases, I have seen portable restrooms set up next to a brick-and-mortar public restroom that has been closed down.

Pumper: Wouldn’t portable restrooms be just as vulnerable to vandals as brick-and-mortar facilities?

Brubaker: There is always the concern that portable restrooms will be vandalized or tipped over, but there are ways to prevent that. There are ways to lock them down so they can’t be tipped over by wind or by malice. You can build a structure that encloses or hides the restrooms.

I recently stopped in a tourist area at a beach in Delaware. In a little park, there were flowers and gazebos, and there was a little thing that looked like a cedar building. When I went around to the front, I found that it contained portable restrooms. I’ve seen this in more than one place. Sometimes the structure will have a roof, sometimes just a fence. But the structure makes it look like a facility.

Pumper: You say there’s a shortage of restrooms at transit stations?

Brubaker: Yes. Think for a moment. The National Park Service says that if you’re going to have X number of visitors, you need this many restrooms. Metro Rail in Washington, D.C., serves 700,000 people per day and has nothing. The government is essentially suggesting that those people should use someone else’s private toilet. My argument is that those are patrons of the rail system, and the rail system should provide facilities for them.

Pumper: Do you believe the portable sanitation industry can benefit significantly from taking up this cause?

Brubaker: If the kind of regulations we favor come to pass, the portable sanitation industry is going to benefit more than anyone else. After all, that has been the way many communities solved the problem of providing restroom facilities for people with disabilities. I have seen existing restrooms in parks with ADA-compliant portable restrooms next to them.

For simply providing public restroom facilities in downtown areas, the easiest and simplest thing to do is just award a portable sanitation service contract.

Source: PUMPER 10-02 Page 80   Interview – Bob Brubaker   Going Downtown  By Ted J. Rulseh  A non-profit group sees a role for portable restrooms in solving the problem of inadequate sanitary facilities in public gathering places

The quest for a public bathroom can be difficult in Geneva’s downtown. At times, desperation has led some to city hall on Saturdays in hopes someone will answer.  “People will say ‘I am sorry, I needed to use the restroom,’ ” Mayor Kevin Burns said. “And I have let them in.”   But the decades-old issue may see some relief. The city is working with businesses to label their private restrooms public and let the public know.   There could be four of these restrooms spaced throughout downtown and noted on maps and kiosks in upcoming weeks.   In February, Geneva’s city council agreed to pay … …for use of its bathrooms. …

“It is going to be great to be able to direct people to a public restroom that’s not at one end of town or another.”   The city pays for costs such as supplies and maintenance in exchange for the public designation.  “It’s the quintessential partnership,” Burns said.   The problem of not having a public restroom for shoppers and visitors to town has existed at least for the past 20 years, the mayor said.  Merchants feel the brunt of the need.  “There are always people asking where the public washrooms are on a daily basis,” …

More and more towns are relying on businesses as restroom facilities, said Robert Brubaker, director of Metroped, a Virginia not-for-profit organization whose projects include a public restroom initiative. Partnerships like this are prevalent in European countries, he said. The trick is to make sure these bathrooms are clearly designated as public and making sure people know about them, he said.  Their project’s mission includes making bathrooms accessible to people, especially those with health problems. …

Village legislation keeps any merchant from turning someone away from using their restroom, but a fully accessible, public-owned bathroom is vital for suburban destinations that draw visitors, Cage said.   “I think people almost expect it,” … … Arlington Heights’ code deems it unlawful to deny public use of bathrooms in businesses, hotels, restaurants and even schools regardless whether or not someone purchases anything.  About once a year, village employees have explain the law to some merchants after people complain they were denied bathroom use, said Tom Oas, the village’s health services director. If a business doesn’t comply, it can face fines up to $750, he said.  …

Source: Chicago Dailey Herald “At last, downtown Geneva visitors will have place to go” By Rhonda Sciarra Daily Herald Staff Writer Posted August 07, 2003
© 2003 Daily Herald, Paddock Publications, Inc.

… Flight 90 from Columbus, Ohio, arrived three hours late at National after spending 1 1/2 hours on the Dulles tarmac, where passengers said they had a frustrating, full-bladdered experience. Passengers said the pilot told them that the FBI was forcing the plane to land at Dulles but did not say why…

The tension inside the plane mounted, Dunnebacke said, because passengers were not allowed to use the plane’s restrooms for about 45 minutes after landing at Dulles and were not allowed off the plane. “People were ready to rush the door to get out of the plane and get to a bathroom,” Dunnebacke said. Monahan said the FBI asked that the airline not permit the 119 passengers to get out of their seats or use the bathroom or cell phones until the FBI cleared the plane at Dulles…

Source: Washington Post “National Diverts Plane After Landing Code Mix-Up” By Katherine Shaver
Staff Writer Tuesday, November 27, 2001; Page B03  ©

Note- In addition to the 45 minutes on ground, restroom use is not allowed for 30 minutes before landing.
U.S. sky marshals … … ordered a plane to land at Dulles International Airport yesterday, after a passenger got up and started walking toward the cockpit, … … About 15 minutes before the plane was to land at National, Ortiz got out of his seat and started walking briskly toward the front of the plane, where a restroom and cockpit are… …a sky marshal in plainclothes seated near the front yelled, ‘Stop!’ said passenger Mike Cannon, of Arlington. Two sky marshals — one with a gun drawn — and a third man ordered Ortiz to get on the ground. He complied without a struggle, Cannon said. He “kept saying: ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just wanted to go to the bathroom.’ ” …

Source: Washington Post “Passenger Prompts Landing At Dulles Man Approached Cockpit Despite Ban” By Lyndsey Layton and Maria Glod  Staff Writers Tuesday, November 13, 2001; Page A08 © The Washington Post Company

Mary Ann Racin recently launched, a Web site that allows travelers to search a database of the world’s most tourist-friendly toilets. David Wallis interviewed her by telephone from her Virginia headquarters.  Q: Okay, let’s get to the bottom of this. What’s the story behind the site?
A: Last summer, I was in Paris with my 3-year-old daughter, and when she had to go.

Source: Washington Post “Tourist-Friendly Public Toilets”  August 13, 2000; Page E3 Section: Travel
© 2002 The Washington Post Company

Finally someone is doing something about one of Placerville’s most glaring shortcomings. Councilmen Carl Borelli and Trent Saxton have been working to bring a public restroom to downtown Placerville. They have architectural design services donated, a tentative commitment of some funding from the county and apparently from some private sources.  Some who spoke at a recent City Council meeting expressed concern about vandalism and whether the police could keep an eye on it without affecting their patrol duties. The police chief said he would have to study other cities like Placerville that have public toilets. But we regard these concerns as excessive worrying. Sure the police can patrol the public restroom; it will be downtown and if the police can’t patrol downtown Placerville on a regular basis, then Placerville has some more important issues to worry about.City and police officials need not look very far afield to see whether a public restroom is a manageable facility. They need only look at the City Park on Benham Street, which has had a public restroom for decades. …

This is a vital improvement for downtown Placerville that should advance to construction without undue delay. …

Source: The Cailfornia Mountain Democrat “Public Restroom Progress”
… authorities are enforcing a new, no-nonsense policy to combat that blight of the boardwalk: scofflaws who relieve themselves in public. The police spot two young men urinating in the parking lot of a senior center behind the Summer House Saloon on Rehoboth Avenue. The patrolmen arrest the two and inform them that their names will be sent to the newspapers and the local radio and TV…

Source: Washington Post “Rehoboth Police Stake out Alleys used as Bathrooms” Jackie Spinner Staff Writer July 3, 1998; Page B1 Section: METRO
© 2002 The Washington Post Company

Note: Rehoboth DE public restrooms are no longer open after 10 PM
Q: Why all stores don’t have public restrooms?
A: We went to the National Retail Federation with your question.  It says many smaller stores do not the the space or staff to properly maintain public restrooms.  There are also different health department regulations concerning public restrooms.  It says bigger stores are happy to maintain restrooms as a way to get customers into their stores

Source:  WRC-TV from 1999 ‘Ask Liz’  (Liz Crenshaw, Consumer Reporter )   © 2002 WRC-TVNote: State Building Codes requires customer toilets within a structure

The problem has endured in New York City for more than a century. In 1898, the very first pamphlet by the then-new good government group Citizens Union decried the city’s lack of public toilets.  It has even been chronicled in literature. “I know that I am in distress when I walk the streets of New York.  Wondering constantly where the next stop will be and if I can hold out that long,” Henry Miller wrote in “Black Spring” in the 1930’s.

As late as last year, a survey of city residents sponsored by the City Council found that the lack of public toilets was a common complaint, and made the city less livable.

Yet, though now across the globe, more than 600 cities have automatic public toilets — Singapore alone has 750, London 678, and Athens 500 — New York City is still “in the planning stages.”

Why this is so is an odd tale that involves not just neglect and indifference, finger-pointing and passing the buck, but fear, philosophical conflicts, and, believe it or not, competing struggles for the rights of the oppressed. It is, in other words, a very New York story.

Good Intentions Gone Bad

It would be unfair to give the impression that the situation was always as bad as it is now. In the early 1900s, the city accepted the need for public toilets in parks. Robert Moses opened 145 in 1934 alone. The subway system also offered accessible restrooms. By 1940, subway stations offered 1,676 public toilets that were inspected weekly.

But in the middle of the twentieth century, the state of the city’s toilets plummeted, because of vandalism and neglect. Currently, about 1,100 comfort stations are available in the city’s 1,500 parks, according to the Parks Department. In the city’s 468 subway stations, only 78 restrooms remain available to the public.  Many Europeans cities have been able in the past decades to take advantage of advancing technology to place, safe, self-washing state-of-the-art facilities in prominent locations. New York City has been unable to do so.

Part of the Reason is Outright Opposition

New York State outlawed pay toilets in 1975 in response to the charge that such facilities discriminated against women. Women always needed a stall, while men could make do without, opponents argued. The city won an exemption to the state law in 1993, a few years after a group of homeless people brought a class-action lawsuit. “The fact that I can’t find anyplace to relieve myself in New York causes me lots of problems and pain,” testified one homeless man. “I have never been able to find bathrooms in the subways. They are always locked and unavailable. The bathrooms in the parks are in terrible condition and dangerous.”

The city proceeded with plans for automatic toilets, starting with a pilot program of six. The toilets were well-received in some quarters. But again, they were held up amid accusations of discrimination. This time, the victims were said to be the disabled. The plan to install some toilets that were handicapped-accessible and some that were not violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Toilet makers responded by shrinking the size of the toilets, while keeping them handicapped-accessible.

But the opposition is not just among organized communities, but in actual physical communities. In Holliswood, Queens, a group of residents blocked the construction of a two-toilet comfort station in a local playground. They feared it would fall into disrepair and would attract child molesters, vagrants and other undesirables.

In May of 2000, another community board voted against a $350,000 comfort station for Utopia playground in Fresh Meadows.

Giuliani’s Fizzled Plan

When Mayor Rudy Giuliani came into office, public toilets were one issue he had a strong interest in, according to former Deputy Mayor Fran Reiter, who spearheaded the plans for the administration.

By March 1997, when Reiter left the administration, the plan “was well under way,” she says. “We had reached an agreement with the City Council for my program.” The plan was to contract for 20 years with a company that would provide all the “street furniture,” including 430 newsstands and 3,300 bus shelters along with 30 toilets. The company would sell advertising on all of the furniture (not just the toilets), in order to help subsidize toilet creation, installation and maintenance.

But then abruptly, Reiter says, “the plan was pulled. The administration decided to look at other approaches.” There was concern that contract was just too big to go all to one company. Such a monopoly-making approach made Mayor Giuliani squeamish. The talk changed to awarding at least five contracts, one for each borough.

“Ideally you would try to do it with more than one supplier,” admits Reiter. “The problem was that advertising in the major population centers, Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn to some extent, subsidized the rest of the city. That’s why we felt a borough-wide approach wouldn’t work. Queens has mostly residential areas so you couldn’t be self supporting in Queens.”

The mayor scrapped the plan in June 1998 saying the city would prefer to “encourage competition and greater design variation.”

Vallone’s Fizzled Plan

Shortly thereafter, City Council speaker Peter Vallone vacationed in Athens and learned that 500 public toilets were available for his use. He returned to New York with photos of the Athenian toilets and a plan to adorn the city with similar structures. The City Council found 5 million dollars in the budget to build between 50 and 100 public toilets.

“The administration never did anything with it,” said Jordan Barowitz, City Council spokesman. “They said they were waiting for a plan from the council on how to do it. We were totally miffed because that’s not what we do. The administration has never acted upon it, and so the money just sits unspent and it is tremendously frustrating.”

One of the companies that submitted a plan when the city requested proposals was J.C. DeCaux, a company responsible for many of the public toilets found in Europe, as well as those in San Francisco. The company submitted about 140 models and a plan that would cost the city nothing, before the city announced that it would start the process over. Some interpreted this as the administration’s lack of real interest in bringing public toilets to the streets.

The Private Sector, Part 1

In response to the government’s failure to address the city’s need, earlier this year, the 34th Street Partnership, a Manhattan business improvement district, installed two automatic public toilets, in Greeley and Herald Squares. As with the toilets in San Francisco, users pay 25 cents for a maximum of 20 minutes and the toilets clean and disinfect themselves after each use.

Such facilities are not without hazards. “Travelers may think they can use the toilets for free, by sneaking in as someone else leaves,” cautions one travel guide, “Don’t do this! If you don’t pay, the toilet thinks it is empty and will clean itself while you are in there” Still, they service about 750 customers each week.

The partnership shouldered some of the cost since advertising on the toilets and coin revenue do not cover operating and capital costs. “It’s not the model exactly the advertising companies had in mind when they made that proposal earlier, but we think it’s an important step,” said Dan Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership. “It shows that with some effort they can be made to work, as the test the city did previously also showed.”

But neither the city nor any of the other 40 business improvement districts have followed the 34th Street Partnership’s lead yet. With 1.5 million people passing through each day, Times Square would seem an apt location for automatic public toilets, but there are no such plans.

“We haven’t been able to find the sidewalk space that could be sacrificed,” said Brendan Saxton, president of the Times Square Business Improvement District. “Our sidewalks are so congested and sidewalk space is at such a premium. We haven’t found good spots on the sidewalks although we’re still looking.”

Saxton’s group instead makes restrooms available in its tourist center and has been involved with negotiations for new buildings in Times Square. As part of the deal for buildings for Arthur Anderson (on the Times Square Brewery site) and Ernst & Young (corner of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street), attended public restrooms will be available in the subway station below the building.

“They will build public restrooms that will be clean, available to the public and supervised 16 to 18 hours a day,” said Sexton. “We made restrooms one of the amenities that was part of the deal. We are trying to promote additional public restrooms wherever we can.”

Sexton sees less of a need for public toilets than a decade ago. “I think that as the city has relaxed, we’ve all become less paranoid and more welcoming of the basic human requirements. It’s not an issue the way it used to be.” Still, he recognizes that the need arises with regularity and should be addressed. “If you’re a host city for millions of people you have to be a good host. You can’t invite all these people to the city and leave them standing out on the street.”

The Private Sector Part 2

As the city continues to struggle with the lack of public toilets, Web entrepreneurs have stepped in to help.

A cottage industry disseminates the locations of restrooms in New York City. Internet guides include The Bathroom Diaries, a guide to bathrooms around the world, as well as in New York.

One company, Rovenet Inc., created a program for palm-type computers that can be used anytime and anywhere. The user types in his location and the program lists nearby public restrooms, along with a rating for each.

San Francisco’s Success Story

Some who wished to defend New York could point out that few American cities have the public facilities that are so common in Europe — that perhaps, public toilets in some way offend American sensibilities, or provoke worry that they will attract the undesirable.

Of course, New York is more similar to European cities in the way it encourages both residents and visitors to walk around and hang out in public spaces. In any case, this argument only could have been made up to five years ago. That is when San Francisco began its street toilet program. The 24 available toilets average 80 uses per day, offering 20 minutes of toilet time for 25 cents (20 minutes was recommended by the mayor’s task force for the handicapped.) The coin revenue does not begin to pay for the $200,000 cost of the toilet, or for its daily maintenance. To cover those costs, the company sells advertising on cylindrical kiosks erected in high traffic areas.

“In the beginning, there were a lot of reservations about advertising and the size of the kiosks,” said Jake Szeto, Project Manager of the Automatic Public Toilet and Public Kiosk Program at the San Francisco Department of Public Works. “But it is a success. Otherwise the city wouldn’t have expanded the program.”

The toilets have been placed along the waterfront, at Fisherman’s Wharf, and in low-rent areas. Maintenance workers visit daily to restock paper and soap and there have been only a few complaints.

“Maintenance is not a big issue, vandalism is not a big issue,” Szeto says. “The complaint is that some of the toilets are being used for illegal activities — drug use, prostitution, that kind of stuff — generally in areas where those activities are already a problem.” As in Queens, there is also an aversion in individual neighborhoods. “Everyone thought the toilet is a great idea, but put it in someone else’s front yard,” said Szeto.

Can Do

Still, other American cities have become enthusiastic about public toilets, after observing San Francisco’s success. Boston has already approved plans for new toilets while both Los Angeles and Chicago are welcoming proposals.

New York is apparently waiting for its next mayor. A plan for public restrooms could finally put the century-old complaint to rest.
Source: Gotham Gazette – Public Toilets 15 July 01 by Rebecca Webber

New York

Grand Central Terminal’s new bathrooms
… … “I have to be in pretty rough shape to even go in there.” Responding to commuter complaints about long lines at the restrooms, Metro-North Railroad spent $1.4 million to convert about 1,500 square feet of retail space into new restrooms that railroad spokesman Dan Brucker said “reflect the grandeur of Grand Central.” Brucker said he will suggest to the station master’s office that signs be placed around Grand Central letting people know the new restrooms are open….

A hotel manager said he knows commuters use the restrooms there. “There have always been those who choose to stop by the Hyatt to take care of business,” said Louis Kievit, director of sales and marketing. “When you have non patrons utilizing the restrooms, you run the risk of paying customers having limited access. When you have a lot of commuters coming through, it puts a strain on housekeeping.”…. …For Connecticut commuters, “Grand Central is more than a place where they catch a subway or taxi,” he said. “It’s a pit stop before they venture forth into the city.”
Source: Greenwich Time “Answering nature’s call in style at Grand Central” By Gabrielle Birkner
Staff Writer March 22, 2004  © 2004, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

The high cost of a sewer hook-up, dysfunction among the mayor and council, and the inability of the new waste-water treatment plant to process septage means a higher cost for providing restroom facilities for summer visitors this summer. Porta-potties will be placed in several locations in town and the septage will be shipped off-island for processing.  Councilmember Bill LaPorte expressed frustration at the situation. He said restrooms had been discussed for ten years. “Something is wrong, “he said. “Dysfunction is going on right here at this table.” He noted he was referring to the mayor and the council not the staff members. …

Councilmember Howie Rosenfeld brought up an idea he had offered in 2002. “I brought up the possibility of a stipend to anyone willing to open up private restrooms to the public,” he said. Councilmember Carrie Brooks said, “I would be supportive of that. We would need to do a lot of footwork and offer a good stipend.”  Other councilmembers doubted any business would agree to provide the service and the idea was dropped. Mayor Gary Boothman suggested the town just not provide restrooms this year. The council rejected that idea and decided porta-potties were the only solution. …

Source: The San Juan Islander [Washington State]  “Porta-potties back again”  posted 04/08/03

Porta-potties won’t be placed around town to accommodate the needs of summer visitors this year. Instead the Town of Friday Harbor will provide regular bathrooms in trailers. … … The town has provided porta-potties for the past several years due to a lack of enough public restrooms in town. In 1999, a building on Spring Street was purchased and designs drafted for conversion to public restrooms. Concerns by Councilmembers about the security of restrooms … … have delayed the construction of restrooms. …

Source: The San Juan Islander [ Washington State]  “No more porta-potties in town”  02/12/02
Friday Harbor Town Councilmember Howie Rosenfeld floated an idea to reduce the town’s “Sanican ” image. He suggested the town might pay business owners who post signs saying they have public restrooms. Councilmember Bill LaPorte wondered if anyone would want to participate. The council was undecided about whether to pursue the idea.

Source: The San Juan Islander [ Washington State]  “New idea for Friday Harbor restrooms” 04/19/02 Source:

Liberty, KY

A new board of directors to oversee Gate Way Park activities was introduced during a public forum … … One of the things to be addressed is that restrooms have been closed during events… …the restrooms were closed due to vandalism, which has been a problem for years.  “We need to make people aware that this is their park, and if vandalism occurs, we will have to deal with it. Vandalism will not be tolerated,” Tomero said.   Cathy Goode suggested installing closed circuit televisions in the restrooms.  Tomero said a schedule of park hours is being made and a way to keep vandals out when the park is closed is being explored. More lighting was suggested in some of the darker areas. Tom Ellis said it would help if someone checked on the park at various times.  Johnson said local police have helped. It was also suggested to ask constables to help with park patrol. …

Source: The Advocate-Messenger “Casey’s Gateway Park will be run by new board” By Brenda S. Edwards Staff Writer Copyright The Advocate-Messenger 2004

Call them the Four P’s of a successful inauguration: parties, parades, pageantry and . . . potties. Portable potties, to be precise. It’s one of those little details you don’t think about until you’re on the Mall with thousands and thousands of people and suddenly realize you need one. “Events of this magnitude are a success or a failure based on the details,” said Debbie Willhite, co-executive director of the inaugural committee. “I don’t want someone who is taking their child to see Elmo or someone who wants to see Peter, Paul & Mary to miss it because they had to wait in a long line or search for a restroom. It’s that simple.” Fear not. The task is in the hands of two Fairfax County women — a grandmother and granddaughter team from Chantilly — better known as Don’s Johns, the firm that won the contract. When the official three-day celebration kicks off tomorrow morning, 816 “units” will line the Mall and parade route thanks to Thelma Rainwater, 74, and Kristie Dunston Harrell, 29 — official potty providers of the inauguration. It’s not the most glamorous aspect of the festivities. “We’re in waste and people scoff at that,” Harrell said. On the other hand, “there’s always going to be a need and we’re there to fill it.” The real trick is figuring out how big, in fact, that need will be. More than 200,000 people per day are expected to use the portable toilets (even more during the parade).

National Park Service guidelines call for one toilet per 300 people, a number that seemed low when Willhite faced this very question for Clinton’s first celebration in 1993. “We took all of their numbers last time and increased it by a third,” she said. “We actually got letters complimenting us on it. People are so used to there not being enough facilities at events like this.” Rainwater and Harrell have their own formula — informally referred to in the business as the “whiz meter” — for determining how many units they need. Ideally, there is one unit per 100 people per eight-hour event. The result is increased by 13 percent if alcohol is served, regardless of the menu. “Food isn’t really a factor, but women are.” If the audience is predominantly female, they raise the total another 13 percent. “That’s assuming a maximum acceptable waiting line of 10 people,” Harrell said. But in the harsh world of event planning, potties always have to fight with more exciting items like flowers or caviar in the budget. “Unfortunately, toilets are often the first to go,” Harrell said. This is not just a numbers game.

…Source: Washington Post “The Democratic Potty – Don’s Johns, Putting Its Facilities at the Public’s Disposal” By Roxanne Roberts Washington Post Staff Writer Column: 1997 INAUGURATION Friday, January 17, 1997 ; Page D01

The Daily News Stinkmeister got a desperate call … “I have a newsstand … …under the El station. They’re urinating ….” … The urine stench emanating from the two soda machines brought tears to S-Meister’s eyes. So did the thought of reaching into those machines – … … The space between the machines was soaked in fresh urine. .. .. “And talking to the cops is like talking to that soda machine,”…” Until now, Stinkmeister’s patrols have concentrated on Center City, where an army of eliminators has defined the smell of Philadelphia as pee – and sometimes poop. But Daily News readers report that excrement is splattered across the region. …

Source: The Philadelphia Daily News ” Want a soda? Urine for a shock Leaking lushes use machine for toilet”  By Dan Geringer  Jul. 16, 2003
Managing Director Phil Goldsmith shocked the Daily News Stinkmeister at yesterday’s City Council hearing on public rest-rooms when he dreamily admitted, “I wish there was a facility following me around.” “Right on!” thought the voice of the pee-and-poop-plagued public. The Stinkmeister spent last summer strolling stinky streets, exposing excrement, fighting the urge to add to the problem due to an ice-tea-challenged bladder and no potties in sight…

… Goldsmith said that the Street administration did not support public funding of restrooms because they are “not economically sensible,” given the city’s cash crisis, and “not a core service” such as public sanitation. DiCicco countered, “It IS public sanitation.” Both men admitted that middle age had given them a new sense of urgency regarding urination. That’s when Goldsmith daydreamed about having a potty follow him around.  “At your advanced age of 57!” quipped Councilman David Cohen. “Think of it from my advanced age of 89.” …

…” he added sadly. South Street, he said, is the city’s second-most-visited tourist area next to Independence Park, “yet there are no public facilities available for all these tourists.” Queen Village Neighbors Association President David O’Donnell said, “South Street, with its 64 bars and restaurants in a seven-block area, runs clear through our neighborhood. The street is packed with thousands of people every weekend night. But all of the surrounding streets are residential. “Most businesses discourage nonpatrons from using their restrooms,” O’Donnell said, so bursting citizens “duck down one of our charming, quiet streets and relieve themselves on somebody’s house.” O’Donnell contrasted the urine-soaked South Street corridor with New Hope, an equally crowded tourist mecca with a big difference: a public rest- room in the heart of its business district. “It’s great,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t have to beg some shopkeeper to use theirs. I don’t have to go to a quiet residential street. It is a civilized experience…” … …The three public-toilet companies present agreed that a small pilot program could be funded by existing advertising at bus stops if part of that revenue stream is earmarked for toilets…

Source: The Philadelphia Daily News “Potty daydreams & how to fulfill ’em – Council takes aim at public-toilet issue” By Dan Geringer Mar. 25, 2004

[School Related]   What if at your workplace your employer locked up the restrooms? What would your union say? What would your safety committee say? What kind of working environment would that be? These are the very things that the students at McKay High School are faced with. At McKay, to go to the restroom, I have to ask the teacher’s permission to go, get a designation slip, sign out on a “sign out sheet,” walk down to the attendance office to sign in on another paper, show picture ID, go to the only restroom that isn’t locked up in the entire school, return to the attendance office, sign out in the office, have the office sign the original destination slip from class, go to class, give the slip to the teacher and sign back in on the original “sign out sheet.” This whole process is far too cumbersome and I find it dehumanizing. Granted, there has been some vandalism in the restrooms at McKay but there must be a better way to solve it. There are about 2,100 students at McKay and with everyone using only one restroom, it gets to the point where it’s not just degrading but unsanitary. Especially when you take into account that this high school was built to house only 1,250. Source: The Statesman Journal “One restroom not enough” Tricia Bollier  March 16, 2004Copyright 2004 Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon

Jamaica, VT

Almost all the shop keepers and business owners on Main Street in Jamaica along with community members met for the first time at Asta’s Restaurant on Tuesday, March 23 to discuss how to put Jamaica on the map. Encouraged by a recent article in Travel and Leisure Magazine that purported that Jamaica had “soul”, about 30 people attended a town meeting to see how the business community could make Jamaica viable as a tourist destination, not just as a pass through town for skiers or second home owners…  … Discussed were … … clean sidewalks, public toilets …  … Muzzy’s Store agreed to have a porta-potty on its premises with the cost shared by local businesses … Source: Journal  [Manchester VT] “Business owners, community council forming in Jamaica” article date: 03/26/2004  By Correspondent Mary Butera  © 2004 New England Newspapers, Inc

AS THE Daily News Stinkmeister walked around Center City investigating reader complaints about pee-and-poop hotspots, his fondness for Snapple Lemon Iced Tea brought the first code-yellow stirrings of bladder remorse to his groin region.  His walk became a subtle dance of containment up Broad Street, just north of Vine.   His silent prayer for a public potty at a major intersection went unanswered as he turned down Pearl Street …  … Ignoring the stirrings in his swelling bladder, the Stinkmeister remained true to his mission: Put the pee-and-poop-plagued public’s business before personal problems.

For weeks now, Stinkmeister has documented reader outrage at the public outpouring of pee and poop on the streets and subways of Philadelphia – from the vacant vestibule of Eric’s Place theater on Chestnut near 15th to the Coke machines that double as outdoor urinals under the Frankford El’s Margaret-Orthodox station.  Stinkmeister believes that public restrooms would literally relieve the very problem that he was personally wrestling with at the moment. But since they rejected self-cleaning restroom proposals in the mid-’90s, public officials have buried their heads in the.sand…

“The summer stench at that SEPTA bus stop can make your nose run and your eyes water,” wrote reader David Cornish. “I blame the lack of public restrooms for the urine stain on Philly’s name. SEPTA transports hundreds of thousands each day, but you can count the restrooms open to its riding passengers on just one hand!”

Pee-Stained Pedestrian Tunnel of Piddle

Running under Vine Street at the Philadelphia foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge, this alleged “pedestrian tunnel” is, in fact, the city’s longest subterranean urinal. Joggers and walkers wince visibly while hurrying through its foul bowels. Like so many SEPTA stairwells under City Hall and all along the Market-Frankford El, spending a few minutes in this tunnel, engulfed in a world of wet waste, makes you feel like a urinal deodorant cake …  …Readers blame much of the city’s urine problem on its you’re-on-your-own attitude toward the peeing public. “Our streets would not smell as bad if we had public toilets,” wrote Brendan Sqwire. “The real stink is that the city should provide places for people to relieve themselves,” wrote Ed Henry. …

… “If you need to relieve yourself while traveling on SEPTA or anywhere in the city, try finding a rest-room!” wrote Jonathan Lazorko. “Let’s face it: if visitors and residents alike are treated like animals and refused basic services like toilets, every soda machine and phone booth in the city is going to be slimed!”

“Public toilets are not the answer to this problem at all,” said Center City District executive director Paul Levy. Pooh-pooh on Philly’s poohing of potty need

By DAN GERINGER Posted on Mon, Jul. 21, 2003

The Daily News Stinkmeister, voice of the pee-and-poop-plagued public, salutes City Councilman Frank DiCicco for successful legislation calling for hearings on whether Philadelphia needs public toilets… …DiCicco’s resolution notes that “hundreds of thousands of individuals visit the City of Philadelphia each year,” that “there are no public restrooms in the city for visitors and citizens to use” and that “public urination and defecation continue to be a nuisance and health threat to the city’s citizens.”… …The city flirted with public restrooms several years ago under Mayor Ed Rendell, but anti-advertising groups that seemed to prefer sidewalk poop to bus shelter and newsstand ads quashed the ad-financed toilets. “We’ll have to do a better job of presenting our case this time,” DiCicco said yesterday. “You can’t talk about creating public spaces without creating public toilets so people don’t have to walk blocks to go to the bathroom. … …Public restrooms are a win-win situation for everybody. We’ve got to get the public support – and I think it’s there.”
DiCicco lifts lid on toilet issue By DAN GERINGER Posted on Mon, Feb. 16, 2004
© 2004 Philadelphia Daily New

Urinating or defecating on “any private property used to accommodate the public” or on any public buildings, sidewalks, parks, steps etc., violates City Code section 10-609 and is punishable by fines up to $300, according to Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker.  Peeing or pooping in a business district such as Center City, South Street or Old City, is considered disorderly conduct because it is “alarming and annoying” to the public, and can result in arrest plus up to $300 in fines.

While all across Europe and Asia regular folks are happily relieving themselves, stress-free, in streetside facilities, here in Philly the quest for a clean, convenient privy can feel as hopeless as the hunt for Osama bin Laden… …Restrooms became an issue again in the ’99 mayor’s race, when a Sam Katz spokesperson told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “If you’re going to have a first-class city, you have to have facilities available.” … …City Councilman Michael Nutter, … …says the city most needs public toilets in the 8,900-acre Fairmount Park system. “There are limited toilet facilities in the system altogether,” he says, “and a significant number of them are inoperable or are so nasty that you’d probably come out with some potentially terminal disease, so they’re not usable.” … …Okay, so we’re not talking capturing Osama bin Laden here, but public restrooms in Philly could help temper the scent of pee in every alley and stairwell through the sweltering summer, reduce everyone’s humiliation in braving “restroom for customers only” warnings in unfriendly stores and restaurants, and make city visitors more apt to return.

Source: Philadelphia Weekly “No Public Restroom” by Sara Kelly posted 2002-11-13 12:31:31
Copyright 2002,

Like many other downtowns, Ventura’s has plenty of places for strollers to stop but hardly any places for them to go. That is why the city has started a pilot program of paying stores and restaurants several hundred dollars a month to open their restrooms for anyone in need.  The unusual marriage of public tab and private toilet is aimed at solving one of the more urgent problems faced by boosters of downtowns everywhere: Shoppers who are frantic for a bathroom fail to note the historic charm of neighborhoods where there aren’t any. Malls might not offer the same quaint shops, but at least relief is only as far as the food court.

“It’s been a vexing issue over the last couple of years,” said Sid White, Ventura’s economic development director. “We get letters from folks who come into town and can’t find a restroom.”

Under the city’s three-month experiment, three businesses – the Head Shop hair salon, the Bank of Books bookstore and the Busy Bee cafe – will post “Visitor Facilities” signs in their windows. In return, the city will bear the cost of their higher bills for water and maintenance. … … “It just seemed like a simple solution,” … …”It’s a quick fix,” … …. “We’re trying to build downtown restrooms, but you run into tough land prices….  …Around the U.S., a number of cities have responded to nature’s call with cold, hard cash, according to the Public Restroom Initiative, an Alexandria, Va.-based group that beats the drum for more and better bathrooms. But generally, merchants aren’t crazy about the increased wear and tear on their facilities, said Robert Brubaker, the initiative’s spokesman.  The group is particularly concerned about people whose medical conditions force them to use bathrooms frequently, but also speaks for pregnant women, parents of small children and the public at large. On its website, it paints a sad picture of the ” ‘For Customers Only’ spiral:”  “In towns without public facilities, restaurants often get non-customer traffic using their bathrooms. Soon one establishment hangs the dreaded ‘Customers Only’ sign. This worsens the problem for the remaining restaurants. Few weeks pass before every business in town, including service stations, sports the warning.”  Such restrictions run afoul of most building codes, Brubaker contends, and are legally “kind of borderline.” But seekers of immediate relief are in no position to argue the law.

Clarey Rudd, owner of the Bank of Books, has seen plenty of them. Other merchants on Ventura’s Main Street often steer shoppers in distress his way. “Nobody wants to hear: ‘No, we don’t have a bathroom; no, we don’t know where one is, and good luck!’ ” Rudd said. “We want to make people want to come back to Ventura.” … … Ventura has a public bathroom in Plaza Park a block off Main Street, but that is far enough to keep most tourists away. … … On top of that, offering a clean, well-lighted place to do one’s business might just be a boon for one’s business. “We think this is great exposure,” Esquibias said. “A tourist walking around not knowing where to pee might also want to know where to eat.”

Source: Los Angles Times “In Ventura, Issue Comes to a Head” By Steve Chawkins  Staff Writer April 3, 2004,1,5859563.story?coll=la-editions-ventura
Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times


Once a farming community with few visitors, Kent has evolved into a Mecca for day-trippers. But many visitors who come for the galleries and shops, and stay for the coffee, chocolates, pastries, ice cream and more,find out that the options are few when it’s time to go-the town lacks public restrooms.

The absence of such facilities has long been a sore subject for the town, and it’s one that becomes more pressing as the number of visitors increases. The Kent Chamber of Commerce expends considerable effort attracting tourists, but cannot ensure their comfort-at least in one way-once they are in town. The issue of public restrooms is a topic of discussion at almost every chamber meeting, but, to date, no solution has been found.  Unless visitors dine at one of the restaurants or receive permission from a business owner whose shop has a bathroom, there are no options available other than the portable bathroom at the Patco gas station.   Chamber members had come to a tentative agreement with the previous owners of the Kent Town Center shopping complex on Main Street for visitors to use restrooms there, but the building was recently sold and no agreement has been reached with the new owners.

This year, however, it appeared that the problem had finally been solved.

Jim Preston, the former Avon CEO and the developer of the Village Barns shopping complex, reportedly planned to make available permanent restrooms at his much-praised development. According to several chamber members, though, one business owner in his complex refused to sign an agreement to provide the facilities.   Mr. Preston did not return phone calls to explain the situation, but has said in the past that he wants to create restrooms for shoppers in town to use year-round.

For now, business owners must continue to accommodate shoppers by allowing them to use restrooms inside their stores-although the shops don’t tend to advertise the presence of bathrooms, and visitors who don’t know whom to ask may be out of luck.   Carol Jalbert, owner of Country Clothes on Main Street, allows shoppers to use the facilities in her store if they ask. “Personally, I feel it’s very unwelcoming to send people away,” she said. “Every [town] needs some facility like that.”   She recently visited a shopping district in North Carolina that provided well-kept, well-marked restrooms for the public that made it very easy on the shoppers. She and other merchants feel customers deserve the same consideration when coming to Kent to shop.  

“What are the tourists supposed to do?” she asked. “It is a big problem. I think a lot of the shops try to be accommodating, but a lot of them don’t have facilities that are accessible.”  Not all shops can let tourists use their bathrooms, however. Food services, unless they are full restaurants with separate restrooms, are constrained by state law from allowing customers to pass through their kitchens.   Jill Zinzi, who manages Kent Coffee and Chocolate, said customers often ask to use the restrooms, but most of the space in the store is for food preparation and sending customers through the kitchen is not a permitted use, as dictated by health code regulations. She said she regrets not being able to accommodate visitors.  Visitors can seek relief at Patco, but many dislike the portable toilet, especially in winter. Patco used to have indoor restrooms, but customers abused the facilities. A former employee said it appeared that people, possibly hikers off the Appalachian Trail, were taking sponge baths using the sinks.  The Board of Selectmen tried to address the need two years ago when it sought a state grant to build public facilities and a visitors center, but the application was denied and a second round of grant awards was directed toward renovation of the new firehouse. The issue was briefly contentious for the board and it has not been a recent topic of discussion at meetings. 

Not everyone supports having public restrooms. Opponents argue that temporary/portable restrooms are unattractive visually, and in other ways, and require constant maintenance.  Some are also concerned that a visitors center would become a hangout for hikers, deterring shoppers.   Cooper Botway, the new president of the chamber of commerce, is delighted that Mr. Preston wants to provide restrooms, but is concerned that shoppers currently have so few options. He understands there are liability and convenience issues for owners of stores, and also feels the responsibility should not fall on them, the library, the restaurateurs or the owners of Patco.  “It’s an issue that the chamber has been working on for many years and we’d love to solve this problem,” he said. “If anyone has any great ideas about how to create [public restrooms], I’d love to hear from them.”  Finding a location for the restrooms and deciding how to maintain them are factors that must be resolved.

The owners of Rainwater Farm, which is located on Kent Land Trust property south of town, have offered their facility as a visitors center, but the distance from the shopping center makes the option impractical. The chamber appreciates the offer, but is continuing its search for a location closer to the center of town.  The subject comes up at nearly every chamber meeting. Members are disappointed that Mr. Preston’s offer has been held up, but are hopeful a solution can be reached.

Source: Connecticut County Times “Kent Loves Its Magnetism, Loathes Lack of Restrooms” By: Bob Deakin 07/08/2004
©Litchfield County Times 2004

Ketchum, ID

The sign on the front door of a convenience store in the heart of town left little room for negotiation: NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS.  Normally, we would accept that statement with all the hospitality intended. But on this day, we pushed the envelope. We were even planning to buy two PowerBars. And one of us absolutely, really, suddenly had to GO before embarking on a bicycle climb up Idaho State Road 75 to the 8,100-foot Galena Summit. Surely, the sleepy guy behind the counter would grant us dispensation. He did not. My cycling partner implored, “I know what the rule is, but this is kind of an emergency, and don’t you think . . . ”   He said, “I’ll get in trouble with my boss.” Chumps that we are, we actually bought the PowerBars. And found a nice wooded spot beside a jewel of a golf course down the road to take care of business. …  [non-relevant remaining text deleted ]Source: Salt Lake Tribune “Ketchum an arrogant resort town” By Holly Mullen, Columnist  2004-07-20
Locking Restroom

Stratford, CT

Police charged two men in a confrontation that erupted after one man accused the other of taking too long in a restaurant restroom.  [deleted text]   The situation developed Friday night when a 52-year-old Stratford man was in a restroom at a Burger King, police said. Andres A. Diaz, who was in the restroom, and Joseph Manuel Augusto, 37, who was waiting to use it, got into an argument when Diaz emerged, police said. Heated words escalated into a physical fight. …  [non-relevant remaining text deleted]Source: “Two Charged In Restroom Rage Case …” Posted: 11:37 AM EDT July 20, 2004 UPDATED: 12:15 PM EDT July 20, 2004 


July 21 (Xinhuanet) — The Beijing municipal government has urged commercial buildings to open their toilets to relieve the shortage of public toilets in the capital city.  Currently, Beijing has 7,700 public toilets scattered in streets, resident areas and scenic spots, far from the demand of about several million visitors every year, said Ma Kangding, an official with the city administration committee.  Residents and travelers have been complaining about the serious shortage of toilets in business areas and scenic spots for years.  And the situation is only getting worse, as the total number of public toilets will be reduced to 4,700 by 2008 with the rapid city renovation, which will demolish many old toilets located in lanes.   The local government has scheduled the renovation of 3,700 public toilets up to modern standards by 2008, when the Olympic Games will be held in Beijing. But the number of public toilets will still be far behind the actual demand at that time.  It is very difficult to build enough public toilets in Beijing’s business areas and main streets where buildings are too crowded.To open toilets in commercial units to the public, which usually are relatively clean, will be a convenient and effective way to relieve the problem, said Ma.  He said that the ultimate objective of the government is to help travelers find toilets within an 8-minute walk in business areas. [non-relevant remaining text deleted]Source: “Beijing opens toilets in commercial units to relieve shortage”  2004-07-21

… public health. It’s obvious that clean public toilets are clearly a better option than people using the public as a toilet. A public …

Source: Newsday  WHY the fear?   – Long Island,NY,USA Posted 4/18/04

Digital Video Advertising

Companies searching for new venues in which to advertise their products and services are turning to spaces where the audience is captive: restrooms, gasoline pumps, movie theaters, ATMs — and even elevators.  Businesses from McDonald’s and Travelocity to Earthshare and GMC are showcasing their wares on the 10- or 12-inch silent, flat-panel digital screens. …[deleted text]  … “It’s a no-brainer,” Matthews said. “People enjoy having the news and information. … It’s a good conversation starter, something to use to break those awkward silences.”  …[deleted text] … The search for new advertising space has led companies such as Zoom Media of New York to install interactive signs peddling a movie or product above sinks and urinals in men’s restrooms and even on stall doors in women’s restrooms, mostly in bars frequented by young people. Customers set off audio messages triggered by infrared motion detectors.  In such an environment, advertisers need to be careful about intruding too much into consumers’ personal space, said Jackie Fenn, an emerging technology analyst at Gartner, a Stamford, Conn., high-tech research firm.  … [deleted text]  …”We’re getting a fair amount of response,” Koven said. “There has been better frequency (of response) for the dollar than some other methods we’ve used.” …[deleted text]Source: The Business Gazette New digital video advertising trend: Going up?  by Kevin J. Shay  Staff Writer  April 23, 2004  Copyright © 2004 The Gazette

No, Mr. Van Perroy [“Let’s not be shortsighted–the city needs that new parking deck!” April 16], the two most glaring shortcomings in the business district are not parking and hotel-room accommodation. The two most glaring shortcomings are lack of restroom facilities and parking. I happen to work in the antiques shop on the corner of Caroline and William streets–from what I can gather, the only place in downtown (other than the visitors center) that will allow visitors to use the restroom.  On one sunny summer afternoon I counted 65 people using the facilities. After that, I lost count because people were standing in line and just passing the key back to the next person.  The next public facility with restrooms is the public library, which is two long blocks up the street past us.  Would you like to have 65-plus people coming in your business establishment to use the restroom with no intention of doing anything else other than using the restroom?

Source: Letter to the Free Lance Star “What does the city need? Restrooms!  April 25, 2004 1:10 am Judith Barton Fredericksburg VA.
Congress Park visitors will soon find some relief
MATT LEON , The Saratogian

Saratoga Springs

Planned public restrooms in Congress Park would do more than just help answer the call of nature.  ‘People constantly come in and say, ‘Do you have restrooms?’Ÿ’ said Dee Sarno, executive director of the Saratoga County Arts Council, which is located in the park. ‘It will alleviate some of our expenses for paper and things, and wear and tear.’   The facilities are expected to be an addition to the city-owned building that houses the arts council at the corner of Broadway and Spring Street. The council recently approved a $22,000 contract with S.D. Atelier Architecture LLC to design the restrooms.  Commissioner of Public Works Tom McTygue expects the bathrooms to cost in the neighborhood of $180,000. Next year’s budget will be the third straight year the city has included capital funding for the project.

McTygue said the city started planning for the bathrooms before the carousel opened in the park in 2002.   ‘It’s just off Broadway and there are so many people in the park with all the activities down there,’ he said.   The restroom news was welcomed by James Parillo, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Historical Society, which operates out of the park’s Canfield Casino. He said they constantly get requests from the public to use the bathroom, but the building’s facilities are only for museum patrons.   ‘It would be great to have public restrooms — we’d like to see it,’ he said.  Ben & Jerry’s, across Spring Street from the park, gets its share of bathroom requests, too, according to manager Megan Demagistris.   ‘Always,’ she said. ‘People always come in and ask if they can use our bathroom.’   And on hot summer days when there are more likely to be park activities, the lines in the ice cream shop can get long.    ‘We don’t mind,’ Demagistris said. ‘We never say no.’

Mark Baker, president of the Downtown Business Association, said there are some businesses that don’t have facilities but would like to be able to point visitors toward a public restroom.   ‘It’s been a subject that’s been talked about for many years,’ he said. ‘It’s been a priority amongst many priorities.’   Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Joe Dalton said that the facilities would be an added downtown amenity, but maintaining them could be costly. He isn’t convinced that they were necessary.

There are public restrooms available across the street from the park at the visitors’ center on Broadway. Visitors can also use the restrooms in City Hall, the public library and City Center on North Broadway.   ‘Security and cleanliness are two critical parts, but Tom McTygue believes he can handle that,’ Dalton said.  Mayor Mike Lenz called the restrooms a ‘necessity the city has gone without for a long, long time’ and said the city would make sure the city devoted the resources to maintain them. McTygue also didn’t foresee a problem.  ‘It’s a good location because we do have staff working in the park,’ he said. ‘It’s going to be much easier for us to monitor and maintain it.’

©The Saratogian 2004



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