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Council To Vote On Downtown Restrooms

San Diego City Council votes today on whether to keep its promise to provide four public bathrooms to service a thousand homeless people living on downtown streets.

The council voted unanimously in June 2010 to allocate $700,000 to fund what is called The Portland Loo Project. The proposed bathrooms are secure and graffiti proof. But the plan has languished in the Centre City Development Corporation, the city's downtown redevelopment agency which is being phased out.

The restroom project was spearheaded by the Girls Think Tank, a group of women advocates for the homeless.

They say they want to help the homeless, but found that small efforts, like dropping off backpacks or water, only addressed the problems for a short time. Safe, public restrooms would make a lasting difference, they said.

"We have only two public restrooms in all of downtown that are open 24/7," said attorney Noor Kazmi, president of the Girls’ Think Tank. "One of them has an attendant and if the attendant isn’t there, then you can’t get in. The other one can be locked at times. The rest of them, the public restrooms, close after dark."

The need was confirmed, she said, by David Ross, a longtime homeless advocate known as "the water man.”

Ross , a retiree, spends part of his Social Security dollars to buy water and rent portable johns for people who live on the street.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald has championed the cause.

Formerly News 10’s “Trouble Shooter” reporter, Emerald spent time on the street 26 years ago to see what conditions were like for the homeless. The experience galvanized her desire to do something to make life better for those down on their luck. She believes taking care of the basic needs of homeless people helps everyone.

"This is a big city, we’re not in a developing country," Emerald said. "Above and beyond the human dignity issue is the public safety issue. Human waste carries disease. When it’s hosed down, which the city currently does, it goes into our storm drain system and washes up on our beaches and bays. It contributes to a terrible pollution problem, we have to find a solution.”

The restroom project is on today's council agenda. For it to proceed, the council must approve it and then it must be green-lighted by state officials. A final decision is expected within two weeks.

“It’s unconscionable to me that a city like San Diego would have this problem and there would be delay after delay on solving this problem,” Emerald said.

Councilman Kevin Falconer, whose district includes downtown, said he, too, is in favor of finding a solution.

The vote takes place today at 2 p.m.

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Avatar for user 'Satariel'

Satariel | January 31, 2012 at 3:26 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

They are worried about human waste going into the stormwater system? Are you kidding? Why don't they kick the seals out of the CHILDRENS POOL in La Jolla then. All they do is make the water filthy and dangerous with bacteria and the sharks they attract.

It is an unnatural formation, if they want to let the seals have that beach then they should also tear down the protective sea wall. Why is it a problem to have ONE place for the kids to play, and let the seals have the rest of the entire western coastline?

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Avatar for user 'HankPfeffer'

HankPfeffer | January 31, 2012 at 8:17 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

The city council meets to decide whether to keep a promise. After all, a promise is just words.

That might be a clue why we have big problems.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 31, 2012 at 10:13 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Pass it.

And Satariel, do you think Children's Pools are sanitary? Kids urinate, defecate, slobber, and spit in pools. That's why indoor pools are chlorinated. You want to chlorinate children's pool so a bunch of whiny La Jollaites can relive their bygone childhoods by forcing to swim in the same pool?

And why do you say ONE place for children to play? Children have plenty of beaches they can play at.

I love the way some humans consider animals to be icky bacteria factories and fail to realize humans are just as bacteria laden.

And by the way, a survey done several years ago showed the vast majority of San Diegans favor leaving the seals alone.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | February 1, 2012 at 7:29 a.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Do not pass it. Do not encourage indigents to remain in cities.

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Avatar for user 'Satariel'

Satariel | February 1, 2012 at 8:35 a.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree with benz. I hate walking around downtown. There are always large groups of homeless men smoking pot, drinking, urinating, defecating, harassing people for money, or just screaming and yelling. I surmise that they are downtown because of the homeless shelter and salvation army where they can get food. These places should be moved away from downtown. They should build huge homeless tents near the border. I don't think we need to turn the world trade center into a nice ocean-view condo for them either.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 1, 2012 at 12:09 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Benz and satariel, the homeless will remain bathrooms or not.

Wouldn't you rather there was a public toilet for them to urinate in that peeing on the street??

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 1, 2012 at 12:22 p.m. ― 5 years, 1 month ago

Between people letting their dogs piddle on the sidewalk, homeless using sidewalks as their toilets, and drunkard young men using the sidewalk as their personal urinal after stumbling out of a club, a walk through the streets downtown is more like a walk through a giant public loo with the stench of human waste wafting through the air.

If public toilets can help to alleviate this I would think everyone would be for them.

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