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D.C. lawmaker proposes wasting resources on public restroom bill

September 18, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

When adults gotta go, they look for the nearest loo or dark alley.

Potty training is the saving grace.

Unless, that is, the person is a D.C. lawmaker and proposes wasting resources on a task force to study the availability of “safe” public and private restrooms in the District.

In this case, the homeless are being exploiting as the problem, while solutions include additional public restrooms and incentives (read grants and public dollars) for private businesses.

The chief cook of the public potty bill is D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who’s facing re-election. She explained her proposal in a recent opinion piece in Streetsensemedia.org:

“Many residents experiencing homelessness don’t have regular access to a restroom. This can be a particular problem when businesses don’t provide access or a business that does provide access during the day closes for the night. Homeless residents may be fined for urinating in public, aren’t able to pay the fine and then are swept up into the criminal justice system. Others may have embarrassing accidents in public places or on public transit because they can’t find dignified facilities.

“Many major world cities in Europe and Asia readily provide public restrooms, and large U.S. cities have increasingly sought to provide restroom access for all. Portland, Oregon, has a program called the Portland Loo, which creates permanent private facilities around the city. In London, the city will provide businesses with a financial incentive if they agree to keep their restrooms open to the public.”

The District has hundreds of public restrooms. In scores of public recreation centers owned and run by the D.C. government. In scores of public swimming facilities owned by the D.C. government.

So, let’s get this straight. Last call in D.C. is 3 a.m., but that’s not late enough for tourists, pregnant women, the disabled or the dad who needs to take junior to the restroom. Or for the homeless men who begin lining up or hitching free rides to the city’s shelters, which have wake-up rules and nighty-nighty rules, as they should.

Homeless families given digs at a hotel or motel already have 24/7 access, courtesy of D.C. taxpayers, to beds and restroom facilities.

As for the men and women who sleep under bridges and freeways and the like, well they have free run of whatever Mother Nature and the infrastructure offers. And if nature comes a callin’ in an alley in Georgetown or near Ben’s Chili Bowl ... uh oh, as the little ones say.

Something reeks and it’s not because of the lack public and/or private loos.

D.C. taxpayers already pay city-operated parks, recreation centers and swimming and tennis facilities with public restrooms. In fact, if the outdoor facilities at Langdon Park were reopened, the city could add two to the list before autumn’s end.

Meanwhile, the federal government operates more restrooms than the city does and with daycare facilities on government property, that’s a relief, too.

Then there are the hospitals and universities, Metro stations and, well, any reasonable person is onto the scent of the potty movement.

People want to be able to do “safely” in public what they were trained to do in private or at least behind closed doors.

It’s time to suggest that if this public potty business becomes law, the first to clean the smelly contraptions should be the lawmakers who pushed the legislation and the mayor who signed it into law.

In other words, it’s way too easy to imagine the other demographic who is not going to be given that chore.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted atdsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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