Excerpts I wrote for mayoral candidate Andrew Grant Houston’s campaign policy proposal:
…our unhoused neighbors don’t have that [“hopefully-I-make-it-home-before-I-have-to-go“] luxury, and because we don’t have publicly accessible bathrooms, we nearly incentivize further criminalizing homelessness because the City made it so people have nowhere to go.
Across our whole city, we have six (6) public bathrooms open after-hours—four in North Seattle, one by the Space Needle, and one in West Seattle. So not only are these sparse, they’re in all majority-white, higher-income areas. The city operates 130 restrooms in total, excluding ones in libraries or shelters, with sometimes almost half of them closed, a good chunk of them only available at certain hours, and closed during the winter months. Even for our Link stations, Sound Transit plans to have seven restrooms, with three in Seattle, only accessible via paid fare.
We should feel safe planning trips across the city and drinking water along the way.
And we must stop giving out crimes to unhoused neighbors when it is the City that lacks available bathrooms.
That’s why I want public restrooms in our backyard.
Public Restrooms In My Backyard.
No matter where you are in the city, you should be within a short walk/bike/roll of a public restroom facility available for you to use—without cost.
We have the space to be able to do this, particularly when we retake our right-of-way. However, I recognize that this is similar to our plan for permanently affordable housing: necessary, but a the long-term solution to our immediate need.
…This would build on Council’s requests to create staffed mobile restrooms that include facilities to dispose of needles and pet waste, recognizing that we lack these items currently for most of the City. Ongoing operations and maintenance would cost $3 million a year, something that could be easily filled by using General Funds or defunding SPD.
…investment[ing] in our streets and public space, we can guarantee that anyone, Seattleite and tourists alike, can safely navigate the city without worrying about where they are headed or when they need to go.
That’s how we decriminalize using the restroom and ReVision Zero.