Recent Movement on Downtown Porta-Potties

On Oct. 6, the City Council’s Human Services Committee met to discuss the possibility of adding porta-potties to downtown Corvallis to resolve the matter of public defecation.

Concern has been growing for local business owners regarding the locals who poop outside their buildings and in nearby public parks. There aren’t many public bathrooms that are open at night, and most of these facilities will be closed come November to prevent freezing issues.

The committee recommended that staff research what it would cost to place a few porta-potties next to closed restrooms located in the downtown area and in city parks. According to a staff report, it would cost the City about $1,000 a year per potty to maintain these additional restrooms.

A number of committee members agreed that a porta-potty proposition be recommended to the City Council, and that the City should move as quickly as possible to fix the problem.

Gregg Olson, the acting Executive Director of Corvallis Housing First, supported the plan to add these supplementary restrooms to different places in the city. “Porta-potties have already proven to be successful in preventing public defecation,” Olson explained, and said he was willing to offer funding.

Corvallis Housing First has contracted to install a porta-potty behind its men’s homeless shelter downtown, Olson said. This public restroom will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Kirk Bailey, a local business owner who spoke at a homeless services commission last week, said that all public defecation in a one- to two-block radius ended when he added a porta-potty to his construction site. He noted that while 20% of the people who used his restroom were shoppers, 80% were transients who had no other facility to use.

 Olson thinks that the issue will be easily remedied for the city of Corvallis. “Service organizations provide toilets in India, in Africa, and in other places, so I’m sure that they could help provide them here,” he said.

By Kiki Genoa