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Why Are Park/Tri-Met Bathrooms Nearly Always Locked?

When you've gotta go, you've gotta go. But if you've gotta go in a public park or MAX station, you're frequently . . . literally . . . sh*t out of luck.
Anyone know why so many restrooms in public spaces seem to be constantly locked up? Recently I walked to the MAX station in Beaverton to catch the train headed east. I had expected that there might be a public bathroom there but nope . . . just a lot of little brick buildings of questionable utility. Then - aha - two portapotties situated across the way. But surprise, when I got closer to them, I could see that they were padlocked. I had to go; I went in the bushes behind the portapotties. There was plenty of evidence that others had found themselves in the same situation. Why? Why? Why? In all the times I've been to Kelley Point Park to walk dogs, I NEVER found the public restrooms unlocked. The woods are filled with toilet paper. There's got to be a solution to this problem. What's the problem? Funding? Homophobia? How much trouble can two guys get into in a heavily-used portapotty anyway? I give Columbia Park full marks for having open public restrooms, even though they frequently seem to have been swamped out by the Creature from the Black Lagoon with a overenthusiastic pail of Lysol and no mop.
public restrooms/officer Kelley/children's park 12.Oct.2003 20:42


The lack of public restrooms is a health risk. In the conversation about the destruction of the children's park (see indymedia) the issue of homeless people and no access to public restrooms is fairly thoroughly discussed. It is a good point that you raise --- even housed people out in the public sphere cannot always find one when they need it!. Usually the fear is that people will destroy the public restrooms. It is true that, for example, last year there was a rash of fireburning of portable toilets by young people out for a thrill. The darn things actually melt to the ground if the fire is not caught in time. Also, there is a fear that people will do 'bad things' in public restrooms --- drugs, sex, vandalism etc. It seems to me that these things happen anyway so it is no justification for causing people like yourself and others to have to use the bushes thus creating a health hazard.
Back in the old days of my youth in Portland, there were public restrooms that featured a matron sitting at the front to keep an eye on things --- presumedly the men's rooms had someone as well. I remember talking to the large woman, who usually sat knitting while keeping one eye on the crowds when I was downtown with my mother and needed to go bad... Anyone else remember this?
It is a crime that we cannot find a civilized way to provide facilities. I once walked for two and a half hours from my home to the center of the city looking for an open bathroom. I was pruposely trying to find one with public access. I did not find a single one other than 'for customers only'. Eventually, i had really did have to use one and had to prevail upon a friend 's hospitality.

Indymedia's friend: Vandalism? 12.Oct.2003 22:33


I wonder if the favorite friend of Indymedia, Mr. Vandalism, has anything to do with it? Hmm.

some don't get locked 12.Oct.2003 23:07

-they get torn down

A few years ago voters approved bonds for park improvement. (Did someone in city government have friends in the playground equipment business? As they do in the reservoir covering business...).In Essex and Kern Park in SE Portland solid, unique '70's era cedar/steel playground equipment was replaced by chincey color-moulded plastic crap for toddlers only, judging by the size of things. The "improvement" at Kern also included the removal of the brick restroom.

Self cleaning public restrooms 13.Oct.2003 08:13


In Paris there are kiosks about 3 by 6 feet that contain self cleaning public toilets. You do your business and after you leave the inside is completely washed down. They do cost a few cents to use, but for the price of a cigarette, even most poor people would not mind a sanitary dump once a day.

Sanisette 13.Oct.2003 08:39


On any visit to Paris, sooner or later when you are walking around you will have to go to the bathroom. If you don't have the nerve to walk into a store or cafe and go without buying something, then the Sanisette is for you. It automatically scrubs, washes, and disinfects itself after each use.
Woman waiting in great discomfort.
Woman waiting in great discomfort.
Before going in, make sure you check out the control panel to make sure it is no
Before going in, make sure you check out the control panel to make sure it is no
Here's the inside. After you exit, the door will close and the Sanisette will cl
Here's the inside. After you exit, the door will close and the Sanisette will cl

Restroom Closures 13.Oct.2003 10:09

are part of the government conspiracy

The State, County and City governments are maintaining a propoganda campaign to convince the public they are cash strapped and need more tax money. They keep restrooms closed and use the excuse that they can't afford to keep them open. This is the same tactic used to con the voters into the Mult County Income tax. Sheriff Bernie Giusto told us all he'd have to release dangerous felons if we did not vote yes. As it was, we voted yes, and Bernie and his correctional facilities officers all got fat pay raises. The City raised local business taxes and the council voted themselves fat pay raises. The legislature enacted an income tax surcharge so the teachers could retain a fully paid, $800.00 per month health benefit. We are being scammed by government. It's time for a clean sweep. Vote em all out and start over. There's plenty of money for restrooms, they just don't want us to know it.

Thank You for Raising this Issue! 13.Oct.2003 11:00

Nature calls me too

What is with this city! No public restrooms for miles. Then Officer Jeff mows down the children's garden because he doesn't want homeless people peeing there?! Shit. Literally. Guess he'll have to plow down max stations and bushes outside local businesses as well. That, or get sane and realize we all gotta do it, fucking deal with it. Public bathrooms for all! Or force downtown businesses to open their facilities. They make a mint down there, they lure people down town, they need to deal with the inevitable calling of nature.

Little Cost for High Return in Public Goodwill 13.Oct.2003 11:15

Outraged Bladder

Mom - Yes, I remember some of the department stores downtown having restroom attendants in the past -- the far past. There was also a time when many of the buildings had elevator attendants as well. Now I think there is only one building in the downtown area that still keeps one on. I think it would be a great idea to employ a responsible person at minimum wage to be available at the heavily used parks to keep an eye on the bathrooms and make sure they are supplied and not vandalized. Adults aside, anyone with kids knows how urgent the need for a bathroom can be when you're away from home potty training a tot who's been actively playing in the park. This would cost little and would create so much good will. I, too, hate having to prevail upon a business to use its facilities and the answer very often is "no" unless you are a customer. Sometimes that doesn't even work. I once found myself on Lombard and stopped in at a bank. Eight years before, this bank had handled the closing on my house. I no longer had an account with them, but thought that the amount of money they made on me in the past might work in my favor. No soap! You'd have thought I'd walked in there with two cans of spraypaint and asked, "Can I camp out in your restroom and trash it?" They turned me down flat. It goes without saying that they will not get my business in the future and I will certainly not recommend them to anyone else. Using a restroom is a necessity, not some sort of optional activity that we can choose to indulge - or not indulge - in. If those Paris pots were installed around town, I would certainly take advantage of them!

conspiracy may be right 13.Oct.2003 13:18

son of a city administrator

My father was a city administrator in another large city. He said when they wanted to raise revenue they would intentionally cripple the city services that hurt most. Fixing potholes, dog control, cleaning streets, etc. Whatever had high annoyance to the public.

its nationwide 13.Oct.2003 14:25


the practice of cutting painful, highly-visible, programs in order to force the public to vote for a tax increase is an old, well-worn ploy, that always works be it in the Congress of the United States or in the tiniest municipalities. The corporate media help drum up a fury by publicizing tearjerkers about the worst-case scenarios. It's a game of political football that isn't funny to those whose lives are at stake.

Portland's lack of bathrooms 13.Oct.2003 16:48

me too

Some East coast cities used to have pay toilets (even in the department stores)- it was a pain if you had no quarter to put in the damn thing- but, presumably it paid for upkeep of the facilities.
I love the French Sanisette idea, though- let's get the city to buy some . . . . .
I also saw a photo (forget where) of some urinal type things that actually lower into the ground during the day and get raised up for use at night in the bar and club districts. That way drinkers didn't need to piss against a tree (or a fire hydrant?).

bathrooms yes, pay toilets no 14.Oct.2003 13:20

privatization stinks

I completely agree that Portland's lack of adequate facilities is a menace. It creates the need to do one's duty in less sanitary, open spaces and that smells. I'm completely against the idea of pay toilets though. Please, let this be ONE facet of modern life that some multi-national corporate entrepreneur can't make money from.

I say make open public potties the cost of doing business downtown, just like the ordinance that says that any new building downtown must have at least the ground floor open to the public. Let's raise a stink about this!

Starbucks business model 14.Oct.2003 18:07


The unbelievable number of coffee shops keeps going up and they all have customers.

Why not some local entrepreneurs opening some very nicely equiped sanitary shops and charge a little bit to cover peeing, pooping, or bathing?

Portland restrooms 22.Oct.2003 12:07

duane patterson missywiss2001@2001hotmail.com

In the 1960's, there were several public restrooms in Portland. One was under the sidewalk next to the Pioneer court house, another was in the park blocks across from the county courthouse. The old bus Greyhound bus terminal had an basement (s) restroom. I have searched the web for any information concerning these and had no results.