Construction starts for Portland Loo at Ballard Commons

The long-awaited, $550,000 toilet is finally being installed in Ballard Commons Park.

Seattle Parks is installing the permanent toilet, called the Portland Loo, because a public restroom is required within 100 feet of a water feature — in this case, the spray park.

The loo is designed to be graffiti-resistant, has angled slats that make it partially open-air, which is meant to discourage drug use. It has solar-powered lights, and an outdoor hand wash station.

Commons Park photo courtesy Brenda Reed | Loo photo courtesy Portland Loo


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VeganBiker
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VeganBiker

It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Edog
Member
Edog

I fear the worst, but have been wrong before. My fingers are crossed.

VeganBiker
Member
VeganBiker

Edog – I have mine crossed!

Cap Anson
Member
Cap Anson

What parent is gonna send his/her kid into that thing?

BeagleFan
Member
BeagleFan

Any parent whose little one needs to “go,” obviously. And probably the parent, too. We all need to “go.”

Insanity
Member
Insanity

I wonder how long it will be before they take it back out.

Ballard By Boat
Member
Ballard By Boat

That’s the cost of a house. I have a feeling it’s gonna become some Ballard Commons’ dweller’s ‘house’ before too long.

Southeasterner
Member
Southeasterner

For the three HoneyBuckets and hand washing facility they have there now it probably costs the city around $18,000 per month ($180/day per toilet). At that rate it should take the city about 3-4 years to recoup the $550,000 cost.

The key question is if the restrooms are serving their intended users…people using the spray park. My hunch would be no which questions the validity of the original City requirement to increase costs unnecessarily.

Ballard By Boat
Member
Ballard By Boat

We all know they didn’t buy it for the users of the wading park. Do other wading parks in the city also have these luxury loos? If not, we know that Ballard got one not for the waders, but for the users.

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

The city is actually spending an additional 40,000 a year for maintenance of this toilet and 3 others they plan on installing. If this sounds high it’s probably because they are currently scheduling daily maintenance for these units. Although for a completely plumbed in toilet connected to the city sewer system you gotta wonder what the 40k is going towards. That’s a lot of TP.

Joe_in_Ballard
Member
Joe_in_Ballard

“$18,000 per month ($180/day per toilet)” ? Where do you get these numbers? The last time I rented a Honey Bucket it was $100/mo.

Beaver
Member
Beaver

There isn’t a house for sale in Ballard for $550,000. And if there is, it’s a tear down.

El Grunion
Member
El Grunion

“meant to discourage drug use”

aww, that is so cute.

it’ll be a mess within weeks…

peckerwood
Member
peckerwood

I see you’re an optimist.

seesea
Member
seesea

Are we going to pretend that discrete drug use is a thing these days?

bobbyv
Member
bobbyv

I bet the homeless will love this new restroom !

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

This toilet is a major pet peeve of mine. The facts are, unfortunately, that the only people who use the current portable toilets are the ever present and growing homeless population around the Commons park. The Portland Loo will certainly look better but is it worth the cost? At a price of 550k installed and 40k a year in maintenance you could purchase 2 super premium sports cars – maybe a Ferrari and a Lambo. This better be one amazing toilet to justify that price. Looking at it another way the city could help navigate between 30-50 homeless people off the streets and into shelters or drug treatment at that price. I’m sure the community would rather these funds be spent addressing the homeless issues in the area than installing a crazy expense toilet. What about the ever present tent campers, car campers and piles of trash? when is the city gonna start addressing these issues. I’m sure the library would be grateful if it didn’t have to request to forcefully remove a new batch of tent campers every 2 weeks. The city could have in my opinion applied for a variance regarding the need for a toilet near the… Read more »

Truth
Member
Truth

The facts are, unfortunately, that the only people who use the current portable toilets are the ever present and growing homeless population around the Commons park.

Might want to check your facts there. I’ve used it multiple times and have seen plenty of non-homeless use it.

An actual fact is that our city has an abysmal amount of public restrooms. It’s to the point where if you have a running route, you have a list of bushiness that have restrooms that are easily accessible.

Looking at it another way the city could help navigate between 30-50 homeless people off the streets and into shelters or drug treatment at that price. I’m sure the community would rather these funds be spent addressing the homeless issues in the area than installing a crazy expense toilet.

The money for these toilets is a pittance in getting the homeless off the streets. Not to mention, you’re talking about taking money to construct something for the public good and lamenting that it’s not being used to solve the homeless crisis.

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

I live directly adjacent to the park and walk my dog through there at least twice a day. I’ve never seen anyone use those toilets other than the homeless people that are a permanent fixture of the Commons. But if you’re getting some use out of it great! You’re obviously the target audience.

If you’re arguing that spending over half a million dollars on a public toilet is an efficient use of tax payer money I don’t know what to tell you. That’s crazy.

Also, there are public restrooms easily accessible in the library just across the street not even 200’ further away. You could just stop there if nature calls while you are on your run. It’s probably a lot nicer than a portable toilet or even the Portland Loo.

Would love to see some usage statistics relating to the water feature in the park. Seems to really only get heavy use a few days of every year.

Truth
Member
Truth

If you’re arguing that spending over half a million dollars on a public toilet is an efficient use of tax payer money I don’t know what to tell you. That’s crazy. A new bathroom is not cheap, especially not in an area where connecting to utilities will require trenching through quite a bit of pavement. Honestly, for a durable bathroom like this, $500k all said and done is not absurd, based on some similar jobs I’ve personally worked on. Again, Seattle has a shortage of public restrooms, so this is not a waste of money. Also, there are public restrooms easily accessible in the library just across the street not even 200’ further away. You could just stop there if nature calls while you are on your run. It’s probably a lot nicer than a portable toilet or even the Portland Loo. Cool. The library is not on my regular running route nor should people be required to walk to a nearby library to use the restroom. We need more of these. One in Canal Park in Fremont would be a marvelous spot. Would love to see some usage statistics relating to the water feature in the park. Seems to… Read more »

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

I’m not arguing against having more public toilets. But I am arguing against this toilet at this cost in this location. There are many more places, downtown for example, that probably get a 100x more foot traffic per day than this toilet will get.

99% of the users of this toilet will be the homeless. Most of the other traffic in this area are people going to and from the market street area for dinner, shopping, walking their dog or to get a bus for their commute. They likely aren’t gonna stop and use this. From my observation most people want to walk past the block the Commons is on as quickly as possible. Largely because of the array of sketchy people hanging out right next to the area the toilet is in.

Not entirely sure how the commons toilet can be on your running route but the library isn’t since they are right next to each other.

I’ve lived next to the commons for almost 4 years, The spray park isn’t heavily used. Probably scheduling the construction of this right at the height of the season when it would be used isn’t gotta help. At least this year.

Truth
Member
Truth

There are many more places, downtown for example, that probably get a 100x more foot traffic per day than this toilet will get. You’re comparing the utilization of a park restroom to a place where people eat, shop and work as justification for not building it? I’m surprised you didn’t just use the excuse of “I won’t sue it, so why build it?” 99% of the users of this toilet will be the homeless. Based on what? There are many parks in Seattle that have restrooms and even the ones with homeless are well used by the public. Not entirely sure how the commons toilet can be on your running route but the library isn’t since they are right next to each other. I don’t recall saying the Commons was on my running route? I’ve lived next to the commons for almost 4 years, The spray park isn’t heavily used. I’m not really sure how to respond to this. Anyone can go out on a nice day and see how well used the spray park is (and the park in general). It’s clear that you’re just another one of those people that makes up easily refutable lies to further some… Read more »

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

Great we agree! People should go wander around the Commons, St Lukes, the Library, and 57th and 58th and see for themselves what’s happening to the area. I’m pretty sure anyone with a pair of eyeballs and some come common sense can determine for themselves which one of us is being more truthful.

I love Seattle. I am firmly positioned on the progressive side of the political spectrum. That doesn’t mean I’m blind to the deteriorating situation re: the homeless that the city is currently facing.

SurlyAF
Member
SurlyAF

I agree that that’s a crazy price, and I’m sure they overpaid. Some positives that could come from this are possibly less human feces and public urination, and maybe the local businesses and the library will have less homeless needing to use their restrooms. Whether or not these benefits outweigh the cost is debatable of course. We certainly do lack public restrooms, for everyone, so I hope it helps out.

seesea
Member
seesea

The issue is that they won’t go to St. Luke’s or the Urban Restop – and they are there all night when other facilities are closed. Which means if you take away accessibility to use a designated restroom you don’t solve the problem of using the restroom, you only lose the designated part.

So you end up with people doing their business on the ground, the sidewalks, outside of business, peoples homes or the water feature.

You think removing the restroom is going to make them suddenly go somewhere else to find a restroom?

News for you….

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

The current plan as described to me at the toilet project info day is to lock the toilet at the hours when the park is officially closed. Probably the intent here is to discourage prostitution and other illegal behavior from happening in there overnight. So no matter what the current plan is for less toilet facilities overnight even with the Portland Loo installed.

Ballard By Boat
Member
Ballard By Boat

News for you, seesea, they don’t use the available restrooms that are already all around the Commons Park. Yet you believe this bright, shiny, 1/2 million dollar toilet is going to tip the scales and cut back on outdoor urination, etc? Yeah, that’s rich. Just one more this, and one more that, and one more of something else, and suddenly, it’s all gonna change.
Installing this restroom isn’t going to change their behaviors one bit, despite all the wish-fulfillment thinking.

seesea
Member
seesea

If moomancer says that the only people they see using the provide port-a-potties are homeless, then how can you argue that they aren’t being used?

I know *some* don’t use it, just like some don’t pick up their dog poop, and some people think they own parking spots on the street in front of their houses.

You’re always going to have outliers. But don’t sit here trying to make absolutes.

A permanent public restroom isn’t going to hurt the community. And hey, at least it’s not flammable.

Also, part of this is the planned addition of a play structure in the Ballard Commons Park.

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

Are they going ahead with the playground? Haven’t heard definitely one way or the other.

It’s kinda odd I just walked past right now. There are a dozen homeless on the periphery of the park and assorted piles of trash and shopping carts. There are another half dozen homeless sleeping or passed out on the grass. There is the usual cop parked on the corner keeping watch of them.

What parent want their kids playing at a playground surrounded by all that, or using the water feature? What’s the city’s intention here? Pour a bunch of sugar onto this whole situation and hope it turns into an ice cream Sunday?

I don’t mind the improvements. I consider the toilet the wrong solution for this location at the wrong price. It’s hard to argue that it won’t look better than a bunch of porta potties.

What does the city intend to do about the ever present and growing homeless population in the park and it’s surroundings? None of this other stuff really matters until a workable solution is found for that.

Matt
Member
Matt

Why is a restroom required near a water feature? I take it that is a new regulation that didn’t exist when the park was built?

Freja
Member
Freja

With all the complaints I see about public defecation I can’t believe anyone would be opposed to more public restrooms that are open 24/7. The cost is high but I don’t see any down sides to having public restrooms.

Hopefully the homeless/drug crisis will be reduced long before this restroom reaches the end of it’s life cycle. I’m cautiously hopeful that this park becomes more community friendly and familycentric in the near future.

Ballard By Boat
Member
Ballard By Boat

Yes, because the 3 already-extant porta-potties, the facilities at the library, at St Lukes, and at the Urban Rest Stop aren’t all enough already, yet still some homeless ‘residents’ of the Commons continue to use the great outdoors as their toilet. I love your optimism, but you’re naive if you think another toilet is going to ‘fix’ that behavior.

Freja
Member
Freja

In the long run this toilet “should” be less expensive than the porta-potties. The other bathrooms you list are not open 24/7.
I do not think that this toilet with fix anything. I think more 24/7 public toilets would reduce the incidents of public evacuation but unless or until we get people off the streets, into some sort of housing and get mental health care to those who need it nothing will fix the problem. Sadly, there are those among us who are too far gone to care for themselves and who have mental health/dependency issues that hinder their ability to conform to societal norms.

elenchos2
Member
elenchos2

“hinder their ability to conform to societal norms”

Yes please tell everyone how to live.

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

Actually based on the plan the city distributed at the open house for this project the current plan is to NOT have this available 24/7. It will be locked during the hours that the park is officially closed. So in actuality there will be less toilet facilities available in the middle of the night.

This is probably to combat prostitution and other illegal activities from taking place overnight.

Ballard By Boat
Member
Ballard By Boat

Yes but what you are advocating for is a pipe dream, and you’re making excuses on top of that. At 11 o’clock in the morning, when both the library, the urban rest stop (I’m guessing, I don’t know for sure), St Lukes, and the 3 port-a-potties are all ‘open for business’ so to speak, then why do we still have people openly urinating and sometimes more in the ‘great outdoors’ instead of walking 100 or so feet to the nearest potty?
I get that you see there are root causes to these issues, and again, I love your optimism, but really, if someone has access to a multitude of toilets during the middle of the day and still chooses not to use them, no amount of free toilets is going to fix them.

elenchos2
Member
elenchos2

hate speech

Ballard By Boat
Member
Ballard By Boat

the peaches