New idea for 24-hour bathrooms in downtown Chico

"When you gotta go you gotta go. And if there's no bathroom around ... You've gotta go!" said Hanes.

Posted: Feb. 23, 2018 5:12 PM

"I said, I'm begging you, I'll buy something after I get out, I just need to use the rest rooms, and I was told, go somewhere else," said Jessica Hanes.

Of all the struggles that go along with not having a place to call home? Jessica Hanes says this may be the worst.

"This morning is was over at Humbolt Avenue and I had to use the bathroom, no businesses were open, I skated all the way down here to use the bathroom," said Hanes. "I had to wait for it to open to use the bathroom. In agony."

Last year, the city of Chico tried to address the sanitation - and really, humanitarian - issue by leaving the city plaza bathrooms open all night.

But some people abused them - the city spent thousands of dollars weekly to repair the nightly damage.

City council shut down the trial-run ahead of schedule.

"You give people some stuff and they take advantage of it, sleeping in it, tearing their home apart," said Hanes.

But there's a task force in Chico made up of local service providers, and they've found another option.

"The 'Portlands' are stainless steel, easy to clean, they're the way to go," said Benson, a member of the Greater Chico Homeless Task Force.

It's a trend taking off across the country; bathrooms with solar power, vents for cleaning and police monitoring, some even have timers on the doors to keep people moving through, and self-administer sanitizer after each user.

"The 'Portland Loo's' can cost up to $100,000 to install, but after that, they're pretty much self maintained in lot of ways.

Reps from the Downtown Chico Business Association say they're behind the idea - 24 hour bathrooms are a must - but they can't pitch in for the start-up cost.

"I understand that the city doesn't have the funds for this sort of thing, maybe we'll get some port-a-potties out there until then" said Benson.

"When you gotta go you gotta go. And if there's no bathroom around ... You've gotta go!" said Hanes.

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