City Council considers removal of downtown public restroom - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

City Council considers removal of downtown public restroom

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) - A city staff recommendation to remove of one of two public restrooms installed in the East Village section of San Diego for use by the area's homeless received strong but informal support Wednesday from a City Council committee. 

The proposal to take out the so-called "Portland Loo" located at 14th and L streets was scheduled to be made at a meeting of the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.

At the same meeting, the committee members will consider a response to a county grand jury report that says the downtown area has far too few public restrooms.

The prefabricated metal structure and another like it at Park Boulevard and Market Street were installed in December and January in an effort to improve health and safety in the area. Transients live in the neighborhood alongside residents of expensive condominiums built over the past 15 years, baseball fans going to and from Petco Park, and patrons of the new Central Library.

According to a memo from city Chief Operating Officer Scott Chadwick, police were called to the restroom at 14th and L streets 25 times between April and June, compared to 11 times in the same period last year -- before the facility was installed. Calls at the other one climbed from 32 to 58.

He said the calls generally were for disturbing the peace.

The 14th and L restroom required repairs at double the rate of the one at Park and Market, staff said.

"The Portland Loos have been in place for more than six months and the complaints and issues have not diminished for the site located at 14th and L," Chadwick wrote. "As such, staff feels that it may be appropriate to remove the Portland Loo at this location and store the facility while staff continues to look for another location for the public's use."

He said he's not yet recommending removal of the Portland Loo at Park and Market.

The removal of this public restroom would affect many people including Eve Loveday who uses the Portland Loo. She spoke with CBS News 8 Wednesday:

"I'd be very disappointed because all we have are porta potties and the homeless shelter, and this is my favorite place to use the restroom and it’s convenient because I'm pregnant.” 

Father Joe's Villages, which provides homeless services, operates public restrooms on 16th Street that are open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and indicated they could go 24 hours a day if the city paid for additional costs like supplies and security, according to Chadwick.

He said city staff would continue negotiating with the agency.

Regarding the grand jury report, a proposed response from the city says staff agrees there are too few public restrooms, but the solution to the problem requires further study.

Also at the meeting, the San Diego Police Department will present an update on implementing recommendations from a federal investigation into policies and practices meant to prevent officer misconduct. The SDPD says it has implemented 19 of the 40 recommendations, and the others are in the process of being implemented.

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