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Skip to the Loo?

June 21, 2010 - 2:30 pm

Last week, the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless reported that homelessness in San Diego County’s up by 7.8 percent from last year. Given that there’s been no significant increase in shelter beds, that means more people living on the street.

Amid what’s sure to be a long and complicated discussion at today’s San Diego City Council meeting about next year’s redevelopment-agency budgets is a relatively small request: $900,000 for more public restrooms downtown. Through their “Basic Dignity” campaign, a nonprofit called the Girls Think Tank (“Girls” is deceptive—the group was started by female attorneys) wants the city to add more public restrooms Downtown, specifically some Portland Loos, solar-powered, stainless-steel “urban” toilets, the first of which was installed in Portland in December 2008. The Loos, the girls say, are to supplement the port-o-potties that homeless-advocate and retiree David Ross has installed, and paid for, in East Village.

Last month, City Councilmember Marti Emerald sent a memo to Center City Development Corp. Chair Fred Maas and CCDC Executive Vice President Frank Alessi, asking that they amend CCDC’s FY 2011 budget to include funding for “at least six restrooms in the downtown area by… June 30, 2011.”

A Portland Loo costs $87,500 plus roughly $20,000 for installation. To compare, CCDC’s set aside $900,000 to install one public restroom in Little Italy. Emerald writes, “…it seems possible that we could install one Loo in Little Italy and five or more Loos throughout downtown for the same or less cost than the single constructed restroom presently in the FY 2011 CCDC budget.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. girlsthinktank permalink
    June 21, 2010 - 11:44 pm 11:44 pm

    Did you hear the news?! We at the Girls Think Tank and Basic Dignity Coalition are thrilled and amazed… while considering the Redevelopment Agency/Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) budget, the San Diego City Council today (6/21) voted unanimously to approve $700,000 for the Portland Loo, as as a placeholder until further due diligence.

    City council instructed CCDC to come up with a plan by end of October that indicated community group support for the locations and other details. The motion was introduced by council member Carl Demaio.

    This action happened after me, Rachel, Diana and others with the Girls Think Tank and its Basic Dignity Coalition today made a presentation to fund the Portland Loo, a cost-effective, 24/7, stainless-steel, solar-powered prefab toilet unit (with external hand-washing station) for downtown San Diego. Our coalition will work closely with CCDC and ensure the project moves forward and that the Loo obtains support from the downtown community, especially in the East Village, where key potential Loo locations are located.

    Two of those locations currently house portapotties placed by homeless advocate David Ross (co-chair of the coalition). Today he spoke in favor of the Loo as the long-term solution. At his own expense, he has placed portapotties at 11th & C and 16th & Island. Ross also distributes water to the downtown homeless on a daily basis.

    On May 22, the grassroots Basic Dignity Coalition launched in Balboa Park, with speakers including council members Emerald and Gloria as well as nonprofit, religious, labor and community leaders as well as residents and people experiencing homelessness.

    If you live or work downtown, we’d like to talk to you about the Portland Loo and get your input! Email For more information and to see the short Loo movie created during my visit to Portland this month, go to

    – Jennifer Douglas, Girls Think Tank Executive Director

  2. laplayaheritage permalink
    June 22, 2010 - 9:55 am 9:55 am

    The Girls’ Think Tank Rocks.

    Thank you very much City Council.

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