Downtown San Antonio’s first 24-hour public restroom will officially open for business on Thursday after a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on South Alamo Street between West Market and East Commerce streets, according to Kelly Kapaun, public relations manager for the City’s Center City Development and Operations Department (CCDO).
The “Portland Loo” will be steps away from a VIA Metropolitan Transit bus stop, the Tower of Friendship, and pedestrian River Walk access on a busy sidewalk.
The durable, $97,700 structure was unanimously approved by City Council in March to combat public urination and deter people from turning to downtown businesses to use the restroom.
“It’s a unique solution to a universal problem,” John Jacks, interim director of the CCDO, told the Rivard Report in March.
The installation of the “Portland Loo” has raised concerns from tax payers who disagree with City officials such as Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who led the effort to fund the restroom earlier this year. Some local critics are citing the loo’s cost, nighttime safety concerns, and problems other major cities like Seattle and San Diego have had with the small structures.
Five of Seattle’s self-cleaning public restrooms were removed and sold on eBay in 2008 after City officials deemed them unsafe due to drug use and prostitution. Similar bathrooms in San Diego were not removed but stirred up controversy for the same safety reasons.
Designed to deter vandalism and misuse, the company that makes Portland Loo learned from Seattle’s troubles and have been a success in Portland. Sinks are installed on the exterior of the structure to discourage people from using the restroom as a place to bathe. At the bottom of the structure, there are small windows to see the occupant’s feet so that police officers can check for illegal activity or someone sleeping inside.
Treviño told the Rivard Report in March that the San Antonio Police Department needs to “be a part of the conversation.”
Top image: Workers make the finishing touches during installation of the Portland Loo. Photo by Scott Ball.