Back to the drawing board for 24-hour bathrooms

Mar 2, 2016 2:14 AM by Darren Leeds

The Chico City Council is going back to the drawing board when it comes to the idea of having 24-hour bathrooms in the downtown area.
In an effort to prevent transients from using doorways and allyways in downtown Chico as restrooms, the council explored the idea of reconstructing the existing bathrooms at City Plaza which would prevent homeless people and others from going to the bathroom in the streets.

The need for 24-hour bathrooms in downtown Chico is something that the City Council has discussed for several years now.
Michael Madieros with the Stairways Program says the issue is that the homeless need proper facilities to relieve themselves.

Madieros says, "We're talking about people that have no choices, there's no alternative. You don't choose to use the restroom, it's a human function, you have to use the restroom. So if we don't provide a place for them to do that, then how do we tell them they can't."

Councilman Randall Stone says the council is looking at putting a more permanent structure downtown, but he says that could come with some consequences.

Stone says, "If we leave the doors closed and even locked at night, even during the day someone can go in there, lock the door and stay in there over an extended stay meaning sleeping in there or engaging in nefarious acts inside of the restrooms."

Public Works Director Erik Gustafson said the idea to redesign the current bathrooms at city plaza was estimated it would cost around $25-30,000, but Madieros says he and the folks at the Stairways Program could do much more with the money.

Madieros says, "We'll open a resource center within walking distance to downtown where we'll have lockers, we'll have kennels for pets, we'll have showers and we'll have bathrooms 24 hours. What that does is it removes barriers to certain services and it enables people to engage with service providers and get them back to the community model."

Council woman Ann Schwab recused herself with the issue because she has a business near downtown Chico.
The council split a 3-3 vote for a motion to bring porta-potties to downtown.
They then voted six to zero in favor of having internal affairs further explore the idea of rebuilding the bathrooms at City Plaza.


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