City Opens Bidding on $500,000 Public Restroom Project for Downtown Davis

DAVIS -- Davis city leaders say they found the answer to cleaner, more accessible public restrooms.

The city of Davis wants to take a concept that garnered a lot of success in places like Portland and bring two modern public bathrooms to their downtown plaza.

Known in Oregon as “The Portland Loo,” the restrooms resemble a kiosk with graffiti-proof wall panels and are said to be durable, easy to clean and relatively inexpensive to operate.

“Businesses don’t want you to use their restroom unless you’re a customer,” said resident Larry Mackin. “So, if you’re downtown and you’re not going to buy anything in the businesses, it makes sense to have public restrooms that you can use.”

People in Davis were mostly in favor of the idea and said it will also give the homeless population more access to bathrooms in town.

“I actually think it’s a good idea,” said Claudia Thuston, who manages RC iPhone Repair. “You have a lot of families that are walking around here and little kids have to go to the restroom. You have homeless people and things like that, so it’s actually good to keep them out of the businesses.”

Businesses in the area said the new additions will likely cut down on the use of their own restrooms.

“Sometimes it's like our bathrooms get really full and we can’t do anything about them and if they're outside it's more open to the public,” said Paloma Torres who works at El Buritto Taqueria.

But the two new standalone restrooms come with a cost. The city recently opened bidding for the project with an estimated price tag of $500,000.

“It’s necessary but I don’t know about $500,000, that seems like a lot of money,” said resident Sandy Prichett.

The other issue residents are concerned about is maintenance and upkeep.

“Who’s going to keep it clean?” said resident Jesse Palomera. “What if someone goes and leaves a huge mess? Does someone have to wait a whole day or a week for it to be clean?”

Others FOX40 spoke with Thursday questioned where the structures will go. Area businesses said they prefer for the bathrooms to be placed in central locations, away from their storefronts.

“It should be placed in an open area where there's a lot of people. Let’s say the farmers market, a lot of people go there and I feel like that would be a good spot,” Torres said.

Despite the questions, city leaders said they are hopeful that the new restrooms will enhance the overall feel of downtown Davis, releasing a statement the reads in part:

The Davis City Council heard how well Portland’s public restrooms worked for many stakeholder groups – tourists, the elderly, runners/cyclists and the homeless population. The Council desires an easy-to-maintain, safe solution that keeps downtown clean and inviting. These restrooms are also receiving praise in Vancouver and Galveston.

The city said part of the estimated $500,000 will fund the two structures along with the site grading, utility work and sewer costs, among other needs. The bidding window will close on Sept. 1, with construction on the project breaking ground shortly thereafter.

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