Tag Archives: Portland Loo

Chico Public Works Director: 24 hour restrooms are needed! But vandalism is “unsustainable…”

12 Sep

Yesterday I attended the City of Chico Internal Affairs committee meeting and heard a report from Public Works Chief Eric Gustafson regarding “unsustainable vandalism” in public restrooms Downtown.  Here’s the letter I wrote to the ER this morning:

Chico Public Works Director Eric Gustafson reported to Chico Internal Affairs Committee (9/11/17)  that Downtown public restrooms are suffering “unsustainable vandalism”.  He suggested the city invest in Portland Loo. 

Portland Loo is a toilet designed to keep criminal activities – including prostitution and drug sales – out of public restrooms. With slats at top and bottom so police (and everybody else) can see inside, they are coated with vandalism resistant paint and made in such a way that they can be routinely hosed out by janitorial staff. They must be connected to water and sewer but can provide  their own lighting. They are supposedly tamper-proof.

The manufacturer lists a price around $250,000, but other cities, including Portland, have found initial costs can exceed $500,000 per unit. Both the city of Portland and the city of San Diego have installed and later removed these devices because of increased crime in the immediate area. In Portland, costs for cleaning the devices were so high – $99,000/year for two units – that water ratepayers sued the city for  $617,588  spent on marketing and maintaining their Loo’s,  the cost attached to city sewer and water bills. 

Why do city staff continue to placate transient criminals? Gustafson is the staffer who told me transients have Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to sleep in Bidwell Park. What about the taxpayers’ rights? 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Citizens and ratepayers of Portland won their lawsuit – here’s the links:


While the Portland Loos are front and center in a lawsuit over questionable spending of water and sewer ratepayer money, those ubiquitous public restrooms may not be such a target going forward.

City leaders continue to play hot potato with the Loos, and the latest funding plan would shift operation and maintenance costs away from utility ratepayers and onto the city’s general fund.


Bushong also concluded that the Portland Loo outdoor public restroom program was essentially a $618,000 business venture gone bad. Before Bushong’s decision, city officials had conceded that the Loos weren’t a core utility serviceand have proposed paying for them with general fund money in the future.


As part of the 2014 decision, [Judge] Bushong blessed utility relocation efforts tied to light-rail projects and acquiring land for stormwater purposes, which totaled about $10.4 million. But he rejected about $1.2 million spent on outdoor public restrooms and publicly financed political campaigns.