Ballard Commons Park to receive new permanent toilets

Ballard will be one of two Seattle neighborhoods to receive a Portland Loo, a public restroom with graffiti-resistant stainless steel walls and angled slats that make it partly open-air, specifically designed in order to discourage drug-use.

The Portland Loo was originally meant for Pioneer Square, but after but much public debate, the plan was scrapped, and now the U District and Ballard will instead receive the loos. Ballard’s toilets will be installed in Ballard Commons Park, replacing the current portaloos.

Gary Johnson with the Seattle Department of Planning and Development says Seattle would benefit from the Portland-designed loos because they provide just enough privacy without promoting drug use or other criminal activity.

“They’ve really hit upon a design that works well and doesn’t have problems that automatic toilets or brick and mortar toilets have,” Johnson told My Ballard.

“One of the things that stands out in my mind is that they continue to attract a broad range of users. They’re not stigmatized as toilets just for the homeless. [In Portland] they’re used by tourists, and parents with kids. I have confidence they’ll work well here.”

The Portland Loos cost about $100,000; the city has allocated a total of $300,000 per loo for both the purchase of the toilets and the installation. The city’s Department of Neighborhoods will now work with Ballard community groups to provide public engagement opportunities before installing the toilets, a process Johnson estimates will take several months.

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