Launched as a symbol of enlightened solutions to urban living, at least one public toilet in Portland, Oregon, appears to have become a symbol of the city’s long fall from grace.
The Portland Loo was envisaged as the solution for downtown public restrooms. Journalist Andy Ngo recently tweeted a look at the reality.
“This is a ‘Portland Loo public toilet in downtown #Portland, Ore. that is hailed as a successful tax-payer program. Each toilet costs taxpayers at least $130,000 & tens of thousands more to maintain each year. San Diego spent $560k for two Portland Loos,” he tweeted.
WARNING: The following post contains images that some may find disturbing.
This is a “Portland Loo” public toilet in downtown #Portland, Ore. that is hailed as a successful tax-payer program. Each toilet costs taxpayers at least $130,000 & tens of thousands more to maintain each year. San Diego spent $560k for two Portland Loos. pic.twitter.com/2n0yObmVCi
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) October 24, 2022
The Portland Loo has its own website to tout its virtues, in hopes of convincing other cities to model themselves after Portland and buy a few units for their own downtowns.
“Free and accessible around the clock, The Portland Loo® is designed specifically to prevent problems that are commonly experienced with public toilets. The sleek and modern kiosk discourages crime with graffiti-proof wall panels and open grating. And, they’re easy to clean, with commonly used components that are easy to replace or upgrade,” the site said.
The site, which proclaims “the proof is in the potty,” claims that it “prevents crime.”
According to a presentation for the Portland Loo, getting one sets a city back about $125,000, including roughly $90,000 for the initial cost, plus utility and foundation work and other installation costs. Available options can send the price higher.
After calling the public toilet “simple to maintain,” the presentation said maintenance costs are around $11,000 to $12,000 annually.
The image Ngo shared is much like the image of Portland, which has become synonymous with crime and homelessness.
On Friday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed a ban on unofficial homeless encampments, according to Fox News.
“The magnitude and the depth of the homelessness crisis in our city is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Wheeler said. “Collectively, this is a vortex of misery for all involved.”
The city has about 3,000 homeless people in more than 700 camps, Fox reported. The spread of homelessness has been accompanied by vandalism and other crimes in which business owners are the victims.
“I basically pull up here every morning and sort of hold my breath, hoping that no one’s destroyed my porch and broken into my business,” Amanda Horne, the owner of Grindhouse Coffee, said recently, according to the Washington Examiner.
“It’d be a lot easier to make a list of who hasn’t been broken into than who has. It’d be a much shorter list,” she said.
Gerald McAleese, the owner of Kell’s Irish Pub, summed up the waves of crime and homelessness this way: “It’s been [a] catastrophe, in just one simple word.”
Loretta Guzman, the owner of Bison Coffeehouse, told the Examiner, “I’ve had people sleeping in my door entrance and starting fires in the middle of the night. I’ve had needles in front of my shop. I’ve had throw-up all over out there. And I’m the one who has to come and clean it.”
Guzman said that frustrations in Portland are building in a year when Republican Christine Drazan is running for governor against Democrat Tina Kotek, with fellow Democrat Betsy Johnson running a strong race as an independent. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is term-limited from seeking another term.
Polls indicate that despite a massive Democratic edge in voter enrollments, Drazan has a thin edge.
“I think a lot of people are ready for change,” Guzman told the Examiner. “And they feel that people have not listened to them or stood up for them. A lot of people don’t feel safe right now.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.