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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

City Council approves motion to construct two downtown public bathrooms


Public bathrooms on G, E streets will benefit homeless population

In a unanimous vote, the Davis City Council approved the construction of two downtown public bathrooms during its meeting on March 20. The public bathrooms will be open 24 hours a day and will primarily be for the homeless population of Davis. While the proposal was initially for a bathroom located on the G St. Plaza, the city council extended the motion to include a possible second bathroom near the E St. Plaza.

According to deputy innovation officer Sarah Worley, while the initiative for a new public bathroom in the city of Davis has been wanted for a couple of years, it truly came into being in 2017. The project is a part of the city’s Capital Improvement Project, which aims to improve the experience of downtown Davis.

Four public bathrooms already exist in the city of Davis, located in City Hall, the Bike Hall of Fame, the Amtrak Station and the north end of Central Park. However, none of these locations are open throughout the night. The Amtrak Station bathroom is open the longest, from 4:15 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. If a homeless person in Davis wanted to use the bathroom outside of those hours, they would have to resort to other options. In an online survey conducted by the Davis Chamber, 83 percent of 31 businesses located downtown had an incident near their business due to an absence of a public bathroom.

“The downtown is very important to the community and enhancing the downtown and undertaking the improvements that enhance its vitality are important to the city,” Worley said. “It had been brought to the attention of the council on more than one occasion that there was a need for a public restroom for the hours after business establishments were open — so after the bars closed.”

The team went through multiple designs before settling on their current design, dubbed as the “Portland Loo.” During the Town Hall meeting, chief innovation officer Diane Parro noted that the design was the most favored in their outreach. It was said to be secure, observable from the inside, modular, one piece and easy to install.

The team also looked at multiple locations to find the ideal spot to install the bathroom. While there were initially over 24 locations considered, the team eventually narrowed it down to five, which included South Central Park, the Depot building, E Street Plaza, the intersection of Second and H streets and the G St. Plaza.

There were many factors that were considered when looking for the ideal location. The team consulted Alta, a design engineering company, for more help and research. The bathroom needed to be on public property, be in a safe area, be clearly visible and be where it was most needed. After much deliberation, the G St. Plaza was found to be the location that best fit these requirements.

“At the beginning of outreach a number of comments were made about us making it hidden so it would not be an eyesore to the public and we’ve come completely away from that,” Parro said in a presentation to the city council. “It needs to be well-lit, it needs to be accessible and easily monitored.”

Each of the two Portland Loos is set to cost between $230,000 and $280,000. Since the project was only recently approved, the dates for the construction of the two bathrooms are still unclear. However, Worley hopes that the bathroom will be finished by the end of the calendar year.

“We have a large number of folks from all walks of life who need to have accessibility to a restroom — and it’s all through the day, it’s not just during business hours and it’s not just for folks in our community who are living without a roof,” said councilmember Rochelle Swanson during the City Hall meeting. “ It’s really been wanted by everyone in the community and I think that it’s been equitable to have it in both plazas so we’re not just saying here’s one location — both locations also warrant having [a bathroom].”



Written by: Hannan Waliullah — city@theaggie.org


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