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Oko’a Thomas/ABC News
Sometimes the sidewalks of Chinatown are downright disgusting.
“We have a great city but we have filthy, smelly, stinky Chinatown because we don’t have a public toilet,” said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, Chinatown Business & Community Association. “It’s a no brainer. We need it.”
The Chinatown Business & Community Association started the movement for public restrooms years ago, not just for tourists or the homeless but also residents, especially the elderly.
“You know they have to go all the time. Like me I always have to go. I use it at home and when I come to town I have to use it again,” said Margaret Mar, 80, Chinatown shopper.
She used the toilet at the Chinatown Police Substation. It’s the only public restroom in the area which is available 24/7 and used hundreds of times a day. People must leave their bags outside and get buzzed in.
Community leaders say the city owns the vacant building on Hotel Street and could open more restrooms without paying rent.
“We do big things. We can host APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings) with no problem and we can’t manage a little bitty toilet in Chinatown. I mean that’s ridiculous. People laugh at us and come over from other countries and say hey it’s a given there should be a public toilet,” said Shubert-Kwock.
“There are pros and cons to doing it. The Mayor is definitely open to the proposal. He wants to hear ideas on where to put it and ways to provide funding for security and maintenance and to fix vandalism,” said Jesse Broder Van Dyke, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Communications Director. “There are some city parks that the City has to go back to regularly and keep replacing the bathrooms so it’s an ongoing struggle.”
Vandalism, maintenance, and cost are all factors. The city has also talked about self cleaning toilets but…
“The concern with those is that when you have a 1 person bathroom you have other things that can go on in there when the door is locked,” said Broder Van Dyke.
There is some paper work. The city wants to hear from the public on places to put a potty. There is no guarantee they’ll get built but they are thinking about it.
“We do need more restrooms but the people have to keep it clean,” said Mar.
To give you an idea how disrespectful or addicted people are, even though the only bathroom is literally in the police station people will still do illegal things in there, which is another reason it’s tougher to justify paying for new facilities.
There is excitement for the new Wal-Mart to open in Downtown later this year, not necessarily because of the shopping but because people know it will have an accessible bathroom.