Davis Looks into Installing Public Restrooms for Homeless Community

DAVIS -- The Davis City Council is scheduled to tackle several homeless issues affecting its downtown area Tuesday night.

Among them is trying to locate a public restroom in problems areas.

A tangible problem in the college town is the public health hazard caused by people relieving themselves in storefronts, sidewalks and alleys in downtown Davis. It’s one reason why the city identified key locations where a public restroom can be installed using a police map pinpointing where public urination citations have been issued.

The preferred location is the G Street plaza, where there is plenty of foot traffic and a known hangout for homeless people.

“It seems to be a place where they congregate and there tends to be trouble," said Jen Chandler, the district manager of Sole Desire.

Chandler’s shoe store is just a few doors down from the plaza. She feels a public restroom will make customers uneasy and be a magnet for the homeless.

"Other businesses that have public restrooms have had to close them because homeless tend to camp out in the bathroom," Chandler told FOX40.

It’s one reason the city has chosen a restroom design that has see-through grates in the bottom and top and is easy to clean.

Other merchants say a public restroom will actually be good for store customers who struggle to find restrooms when shopping. Some believe the police maps are based on college students out on the town getting public urination citations as much as homeless people.

Demetrius Barrera is unsure how a public restroom across the street from his barbershop will work out. He worries that there will be more police activity on the street with the public toilet.

“Does it become a place where crimes happen, drugs are being used, stuff like that? Then you’re going to have an officer or whomever to monitor that situation," Barrera said.

There are five locations being considered by the city council, but the plaza is the site that the city staff says is farthest from storefronts and has the best access to water and sewer lines.

There are local objections to every one of the alternative sites as well. Still, some wonder whether the cure is worse than the problem.

“It’s a good idea but I think it's going to probably need a little more thought than just throwing up a bathroom and it’s going to cure all the problems," Barrera said.

The city is also looking at tightening up on its panhandling ordinance, limiting where and when panhandling can occur. It will also be looking at a plan that provides a place where the homeless can store their belongings so they don’t have to use carts or wagons to transport them from place to place.