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Burlington to discuss increasing downtown public bathrooms

December 16, 2017

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The Burlington City Council is set to debate a plan that would increase the number of downtown public bathrooms as part of a response to concerns about quality of life issues in the Vermont community.

The move is being welcomed by advocates for the homeless and representatives of the business community.

Councilors are also expected to consider the idea of bringing criminal charges against people who receive three or more tickets for public urination or drinking in public.

Homeless advocates have argued there is a shortage of publicly accessible bathrooms downtown.

“But if they had more bathrooms, we wouldn’t have this problem,” said Don Abad, who has been in homeless in Burlington for the past six months. “A lot of places won’t let you use the bathroom unless you buy food.”

The Burlington Free Press reported the enforcement proposal grew out of an August resolution directing councilors to explore creating criminal charges to address quality-of-life issues in the city.

Independent City Councilor Adam Roof said the issue has been “irking” him.

“We’re a city that does great big things,” Roof said. “We should be able to figure out bathrooms.”

Advocates for the homeless pushed back against the idea of prosecuting people for public urination, pointing to the lack of publicly accessible bathrooms downtown.

A recommendation calls for Burlington’s Department of Public Works to “identify opportunities” for bathroom facilities in the downtown.

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