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City of Seattle

May 14, 11:58 AM click here to comment > 11

Bringing the Portland Loo to Seattle

Tomorrow night the Alliance for Pioneer Square will hold a public meeting to share details about our work to tackle the challenging issue of public restroom access in our city. There is an ongoing need in many neighborhoods for safe, accessible public restroom facilities. One neighborhood in particular has been active and vocal about the need for this service – Pioneer Square.

To address the need, City departments partnered with the Alliance for Pioneer Square to map current publicly accessible restrooms and identified a big gap in the middle of the neighborhood where the need is greatest. We analyzed several alternatives and concluded the best option was the regionally famous Portland Loo, which is designed specifically for the needs of urban neighborhoods. The west end of the Sinking Ship Garage was identified by neighborhood stakeholders and City staff as the preferred location. Much progress has been made – SDOT traffic has approved the site, Seattle Public Utilities has located water and waste water infrastructure nearby and the Pioneer Square Preservation Board is supportive of the Loo facility and the proposed location. Most importantly, we have identified non-City sources of funding for both installation and maintenance of the facility.

The developer of a proposed building nearby, Urban Visions, has stepped in to provide this facility as the project’s  public benefit, in exchange for the ability to build to 130 feet, above the current height limit. We are proposing that the developer acquire, transport and install the facility, transferring ownership to the City once the Loo is operational.  The City will lease the Loo to the Alliance for Pioneer Square who will be responsible for operation and maintenance, contracting with a vendor to provide twice daily cleaning.

Through creative thinking and collaboration, we have a plan to bring public restroom access to Pioneer Square as a pilot program. If this effort is successful, this model could be duplicated in other neighborhoods across the city. We anticipate the Loo will be installed in late summer or early fall. Check back on our blog for more as this plan develops.

Posted by: April Thomas


Comment from Bonnie Thompson
Time May 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm

As a person with IBS, I have been turned down by at least a couple of places to use their restroom even though it was an emergency. I barely made it to the next place. My husband had recently been turned down from using a restroom at a service station on Aurora. We are considered Senior Citzens and are not street people or drug users. We just want to use a bathroom when the need strikes and trust me…sometimes you do not get any warning signals…it is urgent. Anything the City can do to work on this is great….I would even go so much as to have pay toliets or one with a prepaid amount that you could swipe to get in. It is a shame a City like Seattle cannot even provide Honey Buckets frequently around town.

Comment from Nancy
Time May 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm

In 1992 I proposed to the City of Seattle that they place portable toilet facilities where the need was the greatest, contracting with the owners/vendors who would maintain them as needed. At that time there was a considerable amount of public urinating near Pike Place Market and in Pioneer Square, and my proposal was shot down as too expensive. I wonder if such a solution would not be more cost effective today than the proposal to build a “loo.”

Comment from Nancy Oyloe
Time May 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Wow. Why was it we have height limits? Oh, just as a negotiating point for developers. Hmm, silly me. I thought managing height was a benefit to quality of life in the neighborhood. And if I remember right, we already spent a fortune on similar toilet that were removed. Behind the cloak of public interest there usually stands a rich developer. I believe on the radio I heard that police could monitor the number of people in these loos because they could see their heads and feet. REALLY?? Like the police don’t have enough to do already. Sounds like another rule we can’t enforce. Where is the common sense here?

Comment from Loony Loo
Time May 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm

We just got rid of a public toilet at great cost to the city because the drug addicts and homeless were using it as housing and a place to do drugs. It cost the city and we taxpayers a lot of money and now we are doing the same thing again? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Comment from Allison
Time May 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm

How is this any different than the other million dollar potties that were havens for drug use, etc. which regular folks would not set foot in? Other than twice daily cleaning, how do these get monitored for public safety?

Comment from A Seeger
Time May 16, 2013 at 12:37 am

Many years ago when I was travelling in Europe there were public toilets with an attendant who collected money from each customer and kept the toilets clean and maintained. I would be happy to pay a dollar for a urinal or $2 for a toilet if I needed one. This would also be job creation, maybe even a good income downtown. Thanks

Comment from Valerie Shubert
Time May 17, 2013 at 2:34 am

Most important, this access must be 24 hour. The reason we no longer have outbreaks of deadly diarrheal diseases in our society is the universal availability of clean, fresh, drinkable water. Without universal access to public restrooms, this access is severely endangered.

Comment from Ted Reed
Time May 17, 2013 at 8:23 am

Why not reopen the public restrooms under the Pergola?

Comment from carlo
Time May 17, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Portland Loo coming to Seattle.

Comment from Travis Shields
Time June 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I made a short documentary on the Portland Loo a few years back called People Can’t Wait. Check it out…

Comment from Penelope Makepeace
Time July 3, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Paying for staff to monitor public restrooms. I can do it, why can’t Seattle? Join us at our civil disobedience tomorrow where our Olde Timey Photo Outfit installs outhouses in Occidental Park. Thanks! Klondike Penny’s Old Time Portrait Studio.