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Seattle should bring back public bathrooms

Seattle's public bathroom plan was nixed after they became popular for drug use and even prostitution. (AP)

Does your city suffer from chronic defecation and public urination? Do your neighbors suffer from a crick in the neck after frequently and carefully examining the ground walking the streets of Seattle?  Try public bathrooms.

RELATED: Distracted walking and Seattle

The situation in Seattle goes beyond the classic battle with large birds or negligent dog owners. People relieving themselves on sidewalks or in parks is commonplace. Riders have avoided the bus stop I often use for this stinky reason. The King County Council recently had to convene a special panel just to discuss how bad the environment around the courthouse has become. A big part of that is people are defecating and urinating in the streets around the building.

A sign was erected last summer at Seattle’s Seven Hills Park to remind people that pooping in the park is not allowed. Another sign — featuring a person — was posted at the Howell Collective P-Patch garden in the park after concerns were raised about human waste contaminating the soil, according to an official with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

The no pooping sign at the Howell Collective P-Patch in Seven Hills Park. (Kipp Robertson, MyNorthwest)

The no pooping sign at the Howell Collective P-Patch in Seven Hills Park. (Kipp Robertson, MyNorthwest)

reddit feed about the sign is a chronicle of Seattleites’ experience with the issue.

The official said that the city realizes the sign was inappropriate and has removed it. The sign was appropriate. It was sad, but appropriate. The sign is not the problem, rather, Seattle’s lack of public bathrooms is.

Solution: Public bathrooms

The city tried this idea once before. It spent $5 million on five self-cleaning pod-style public bathrooms. But they were shut down after complaints over the pods being used for drug use and even prostitution. The five units were sold to a man for $12,500 plus moving costs. He turned around and resold three of them for more.

I hate to be the guy that says, “But in Europe they do this!” In Europe they actually do this better. Public bathrooms are not just pods placed and forgotten. Many are tended to by a public employee. Some stalls cost money to use; a matter of coins.

Seattle should revisit the public bathrooms idea, and do it right this time. Assign personnel at the bathrooms to ward off illegal behavior and keep them clean. Don’t just set them and forget them. Public bathrooms are not just a means of diverting the public nuisance. Residents and tourists have bladders, too.

Warning: Public bathrooms may cause potential taxes, reshuffling of city resources, and complaints over nanny governments.

Despite the side effects, we know the alternative. Seattle is living it at the cost of our noses, our necks, and even our garden soil.

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