SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As California’s homeless problem grows, so does another issue: human waste on the streets.
Sacramento lawmakers could be one step closer to a solution. Frustration from business owners is forcing the city to react, proposing to install a Portland Loo. The stand-alone public restroom would be placed at Cesar Chavez Park across from City Hall.
The “Loo” will cost just over $300,000. The makers say it’s a safe place that’s designed to deter crime. It’s built with slightly open areas on the top and bottom that allow privacy for users but still allows police and security to monitor the structure on the outside.
Sacramento business owner Andrew’s phone repair shop is right next to an alley on 9th Street between J and K Streets. Every time he takes out the trash, he sees homeless people either going to the bathroom in the alley or the result of their actions on the ground.
“They go in between the dumpsters and they pretty much use it as a bathroom,” Andrew said. “It’s like a public bathroom in a park that probably hasn’t been maintained — it’s just that bad.”
Even if he tries to avoid the smell outside, he still cannot escape it.
“During the summertime, you can even smell it inside our store,” he said.
Some homeless people in the area say it’s about time a public bathroom was installed.
“People be having all types of emergencies. They have to run down to City Hall or the library, and sometimes you get to the library that stall be full,” said Delany Fields.
It’s an even bigger headache for homeless women who say there’s almost no privacy for them when looking for a place to go.
“We have an alley or places under video surveillance so it’s not much fun,” Robin Williams said.
It will be one of its kind in the city that has 85 public restroom locations. The Loo is not self-cleaning, so that duty will be passed on to Sacramento Park Maintenance.
It’s not a guarantee that less human waste will be on the streets with one Loo, but business owners like Andrew say, “Let’s see if it works.” He’s up for any measure that could decrease gross aromas that hover around his storefront.
“I don’t know if one is going to be enough for how many people are down here – but it’s a start for sure,” Andrew said.
The Sacramento City Council will vote on the proposal Tuesday.