Vandalism forces ‘controlled access’ to library bathroom

After dealing with an ongoing problem of vandalism at Ballard Library, the decision has been made to lock the door of the men’s bathroom.

We spoke with Pamela, one of the librarians on staff, who tells us that although the door is locked, people just need to ask the desk to be buzzed into the men’s room. “It’s an ongoing problem,” Pamela says of the vandalism. She tells us that most recently, graffiti has been the specific issue. The maintenance person has had to repaint the walls several times so they decided to go with a controlled access bathroom for the time being. Pamela says the family restroom and the women’s restroom haven’t had any issues. (Thanks Robby for the photo!)

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

44 thoughts to “Vandalism forces ‘controlled access’ to library bathroom”

  1. Perhaps now they will remain cleaner for use of people who actually use the library as opposed to those getting drunk outside it.

  2. You know, your comment would make a lot of sense if it weren't for the fact that you lack any evidence that those getting drunk outside and those who are responsible for the vandalism are one in the same.

    I find it remarkable that commentary on a story even as innocuous as this is instantly brought down to the lowest common denominator: prejudice and baseless finger-pointing.

  3. I reported a couple a months ago on Myballard and to the library that there was someone washing their pants in the sink in the bathroom. Also that someone had thrown up on the floor in there. Unfortunately it was one of the guys (with a beard and yellow jacket) that sits outside drinking from a brown paper bag.

    Why should my 4 year old be unable to use the bathroom because it is filthy and why should the library staff have to repeatedly clean them? It should be locked and it should be down to the staff who they let in to use the facilities.

  4. Baseless? Anyone who use,s the library on a regular basic knows full well who is at fault 90 % of the time. The outside is loaded with bums,drunks and druggies, day and night!
    The staff will tell those they know, off the record, the problems they have with those groups everyday. They cant speak otherwise because of P.C. freaks such as yourself.
    As long as the “love our bums” types persist; Ballard and this problem will only get worst.

  5. I am sure that the 'drinkers outside' didn't vandalize the bathroom (which is why it is being locked) but the plus side is the new policy will mean they are likely to stay cleaner.

  6. Well I don't disagree that your son should be able to use the bathroom. Still, without anyone witnessing actual vandalism [per the article], it seems rather convenient that people on this blog are quick to point the finger. Why not teenagers? Why not hippies, yuppies, etc.? Hence, 'baseless'.

    Trust me, I have no love for the bums here; just a general distaste for the quick to judge without having all of the facts.

    Like the rest of you, I've been to a lot of bar bathrooms, roadway bathrooms, etc and have seen graffiti in each. However, I find it hard to imagine that those are all the fault of bums too. Maybe bums with cars, and bums with money…but that's all of us, eh?

  7. plumbe,

    PC is one thing, aggregating fact before spouting conjecture is another. I do appreciate the occasional politically-correct phrase, but I'm not trying to instill political correctness in my comment, just patience before blasting an entire group of people with little to back it up with.

    On the other hand, based on my writing a single comment, you've decided I'm a “PC freak”. I guess it must be so — based on…oh…that's my point.

  8. According to the story, the “specific issue” is the increased security measures taken with regard to the bathroom access.

    In the context of 'most recently' was the graffiti mentioned. The problems plaguing the bathroom, and it's ability to be usable for library patrons are well known. Not listing them all in the story is simply omission, not proof that it doesn't exist.

  9. The family restroom is already controlled access (and inside the library as opposed to the lobby) which is probably why it hasn't had a problem.

  10. Clearly this will allow for the discrimination of access to the public restroom that we pay for. How dare they decide who and when someone can use the bathroom.

    I'm offended at this obvious lack of concern for the rights of everyone.*

  11. If we let bums sleep in the chairs at the library, then why are we suprised to find that the bathrooms are vandalized. So, now my kids can't use the bathroom safely, and we have to read books together next to bums. So glad we pay taxes for the library system. Seattle is too indulgent of the homeless population – often at the expense, as in this case, of its actual taxpayers.

  12. Pokerdoug, you are such a gentleman! Your momma must be so proud.

    It's about time that they did this. It's too bad that increasing the security here couldn't have done the trick, but I suspect that they were trying to save money. Personally, I'd rather have them be closed longer, but have increased security coverage.

  13. Have you visited the main downtown branch? It looks like a convention of burn outs from 1968. They have security guards at the main facility.

  14. While homeless people may be a problem at the library, I wish MyBallardites didn't take any issue related to (or possibly related to) the homeless, and turn it into the same sort of thread. We all know by now pretty much what most of the posters think; repeating it all the time doesn't do anything except keep people all riled up. If that's your fun, go ahead by all means, I don't take it seriously any more, I just laugh at the same old same old.

    Also, teenagers are more likely to be responsible for the graffiti than the homeless.

  15. Why not ask Compass to include some space in their building for the homeless to spend time? Might take some pressure off the library, businesses and the whole community.

    No matter what your issues, imagine having nowhere to just be and feel safe? I think those of us that have homes take a lot for granted…toilets, showers, a warm & dry place to sleep. I can't imagine not being able to take a shower, a long hot bath, do my laundry, surf the web, watch a movie, eat, sleep, sit in my favorite chair reading (the list goes on) whenever I want. I would imagine many homeless don't feel safe sleeping at night, which would explain why some sleep around town during the day. I agree that those that are choosing to be homeless and causing problems should be dealt with, but I think we have an awful lot of homeless here in Ballard that just need a boost to the first step of moving on with their lives.

    There seems to be an ever- increasing homeless population and I don't see that ending anytime soon. So why not try to find some solutions? I really think if Compass or any org. for that matter provided the homeless with a place to be for a while, computer/phone access, laundry/shower facilities and a referral center to direct people to the help they need we might see some positive changes happen with some of our homeless…This could also be an opportunity to create a few jobs in this awful economy because a few really good social workers would be needed to pull this off successfully.
    Just a thought.

    Now fire away…I feel like a dart board!

  16. Compass will never have anything like that because the activities these people like to participate in, mostly drinking High Gravity and getting high would not be allowed.

  17. Hopefully they still allow the homeless into the bathrooms. Without public restrooms, there isn't much of an option other then shtting and pissing in alleyways and park bushes.

  18. It stands to reason that people without housing will gravitate to places where they can rest, clean up, and just be safe.

    darnative's idea about the Compass Center or some other organization providing a day center where people can go is a good one. The problem that will arise is that people with addiction likely would not be welcome. For these people the “housing first” model is one answer.

    Tom Carr, former Seattle City Attorney has said, “From where I sit, the “housing first” model is an anti-crime program. Let’s get people off the street first and then deal with their addictions. It’s not easy to beat any addiction… Yet when we get a person housed, good things happen. This seems to be the case with 1811 Eastlake. Before it opened, the 75 residents of this housing program were regular visitors to our court and jail. Since the project opened, we hardly see them at all.”

  19. Wow, I wish taxpayers would pay for me to sit around on my a** all day drinking wine. Set that up in your town, and I'd move there too.

  20. The thing that concerns me about this is that library staff now have to choose who to allow into the restroom, which may be both uncomfortable and dangerous for them. I wouldn't like to have to tell the dude in the yellow jacket (for example) that I'm not letting him in there, and I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of his reaction when he is told so. I almost pulled into a crosswalk while he was in it one night and the look on his face damn near killed my car. No way I'd want to encounter that without some barrier between us.

  21. While related, cleanliness and vandalism are separate issues. One can argue that purposely puking or relieving one's self anywhere but into the toilets is a form of social vandalism because it discomfits, grosses out, and inconveniences others. They're on my time and dime when they do that, and anybody who does it on purpose deserves (but, sadly, won't get) an asskicking. Perhaps the defenders of these actions would like to see the library's restrooms in the same condition as those of gas station mini marts, where you don't dare accidentally drop a toothpick into the urinal because the crabs are so big they can pole vault. Herpes and other stuff common to transients can, indeed, be spread from toilet seats — scientific fact.

    Despite the above, I get that uniquely reactionary Strangelovian tic in my right arm whenever anybody suggests installing cameras in restrooms (or most other public places). Maybe the muzak in there should be continuously looping replays of “I'll Be Watching You.”

  22. Yes folks, suspend all common sense, all logic and all those powers of reason that have helped you stay off the streets and just imagine for a second that the bums swirling around the library like flies around a cow patty, are NOT responsible for trashing the bathrooms.


    I know, it hurts to even try to be that stupid.

  23. This is to cdpenne who wrote: “I have in the past advocated and participated in vandalism of various kinds. In fact, I consider vandalism a revolutionary perogative.”

    Please spare us your community college level dissertation on the class struggle. And you have the innate ability to discern which of the bums (lets stop calling them “homeless” as if they are some indigenous, homogeneous tribe ) has or has not crossed the line of vandalizing just for the heck of it versus the ones who are revolutionaries??

    You are a bigger part of the problem then they are. You and your destructive, careless faux-cerebral post.

    We need to call the cops daily, and have them remove these lowlifes until they realize they are not welcome at a public library. Please stop pretending that if some of these people simply had more access to better social “programs” they could become responsible, productive members of society.

    Oh wait, I forgot; there's too much MONEY to be made in continuing to perpetuate the idea that more “programs” and facilities are the answer. Remember, every dollar thrown at these losers is a dollar not spent on a kid, someone disabled, someone elderly or just about anyone else who really needs it.

    I'm sick of having to explain this

  24. Hello, nwcitizen, of course this is an issue from, and for, another thread.
    However, since you cared to extol the virtues of 1811 Eastlake…

    It's the worst form of 'help' that was ever devised by this states crooked elite.
    You truly want them to 'disappear', and stop being a burden in the court system, but by the method of tax payer funded drunk houses, alcohol supplied, where they can drink themselves to death, never having to emerge again, ever, until somebody finds out they are dead, and the carcass is hauled out. Undeniable evil. IMHO.

    I want to see more housing opportunities provided, that has been my effort long before this issue was in vogue. I do not want the city, or the state, or the nation giving away housing, to be honest, and simply because it will solve nothing, and only make the problem worse. We don't need to create more dependence, we need to require more independence.

    The 'state' is incapable of requiring anything from those who need assistance.
    They don't even know what percentage of food stamps goes for food for the recipient, really, it's the biggest tax payer funded scam in this state.

    Free housing for all works until all demand it. What will you geniuses do then?

  25. I think you need to re-read what I posted earlier, because I said what you said but only better. Perhaps you need glasses, a community level class in reading comprehension, or maybe you should simply stop explaining yourself and take a breath. Good luck!

  26. As to what to call them: I call them vandals. I don't like vandals, nor thieves, no ifs, ands, or buts. I am wary of those who assume, however, because when you assume you make an ass of u and me.

  27. They already relieved themselves all over the place even when the bathroom was available to them.

    Hopefully, with some more doors closed to them, this new wave of migrant hobos will move on.

  28. The Compass Center does offer ALL of these services at their Pioneer Square facility. All of the folk who hang out in front of the library know about those services, facilities and others. Likely, they've been kicked out of them. I speak not from speculation but knowledge. I personally know some of the folk that regularly hang out in front library. I have had to throw a couple of them out of the Clean & Sober house that I live in because they started using again.

    In fact the guy in the yellow jacket is drinking with a buddy on the porch of an office building across the street as I type.

    The facility the Compass Center is planning to build here in Ballard will not include 'day room' facilities (Again, there are several of these downtown. All known to the 'folk out front.') It will be 80 permanent housing studio apartments for folk 'graduating' from their programs/facilities. And if I'm not mistaken the Compass Center's primary funding, which does not infer that they do NOT receive taxpayer money, is from the Lutheran Church.

    My feeling is that we have neither more nor less of these problems now than we have in the past. We will and always have had a segment of our population who lives at this level. But certainly there are more options for them now. I also think it's a good thing for children to see, ON OCCASION, as it can provide a good teaching moment.

Leave a Reply