Appropriate Tech Public Restroom Conceived – April 8, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

This overhead view of the Kash Boodjeh-designed restroom model indicates its orientation with the sidewalk and building.

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

CITY HALL – There may be nothing new under the sun, but there is something new behind the crescent moon that emblazons an outhouse door.

City Councilmembers Susan Ornelas and Shane Brinton have been meeting with concerned citizens group focused on finally bringing about a public restroom in downtown Arcata.

Their suggestions have been incorporated into a design by renowned Arcata architect Kash Boodjeh, which has advanced to the model stage.

The south face.

The restroom’s design is still tentative, but it doesn’t look anything like the cinder-block affair that Public Works designed last time a public restroom was under serious discussion, nor the glitzy, super-expensive high-tech jobs used in some metropolitan areas.

So far, the Arcata version features two stalls – one for men, one for women – with a hand-washing station at the entrance.

Inside, it is lined with modular, replaceable panels designed in conjunction with artists of the Ironside Gallery.

The outside features a living “green wall” of living plants, which is presumed to be somewhat vandalism resistant. That component alone costs $18,000.

An open design, with only a partial roof, is intended to deter attempts at habitation.

The structure is site-specific to the location near the Veteran’s Memorial Park on Eighth Street between F and G streets, Boodjeh said.

The new restroom is also designed to be relatively easily removable, should it prove non-sustainable for some reason.

Design and construction costs are unknown, but could be as much as $100,000, according to a City staff report.

The report estimates annual maintenance costs at $12,000 to $20,000.

Funding sources would have to be identified, though the matter could be further advanced during upcoming goal setting and budget meetings with the City Council.

A rough approximation of the view from the alley, showing the restroom's entrances.


31 Responses to “Appropriate Tech Public Restroom Conceived – April 8, 2012”

  1. AG

    Vandalism resistant? Vandal #1 rips plants off the wall. Vandal #2 tags the bare patches on the wall, or, hey, simply tags the plants — which then look ugly as they begin to die. And the mock-up photo shows a lot of wall panels not covered in plants in the first place. This project smacks of a whole lot of optimism and not an ounce of realism.

    If the city has $20K to blow on maintaining a restroom when a restroom already exists in city hall, umm, give that money to the Arcata Elementary School District. We’re in our six straight year of budget cuts. How many teachers are we losing in September? How many positions have we lost since 2005? Yeah, yeah, different pots of money and it’s not the city’s mission to support the city’s youth, er, except for having a Parks & Recreation department heavily focused on youth.


  2. Lilly

    No doubt, what a waste of money when the younger kids can’t get a decent education, and the city just attracts more felon druggies and even more crime. Sad, so sad. Retarded city counsel jackasses.

  3. Ian Ray

    Why is everything commented to be “so sad” these days?

    To me, doesn’t seem like the worst concept although it appears to favor form over function. Replacable panels are a decent idea and it is moderately nicer looking than the facilities in other cities.

    As it stands, people have to go to the bathroom. This will be a problem for sidewalks and alleyways as long as there is no public bathroom. We can debate over whether or not public schools could burn through a restroom maintenance budget, but people will still need a toilet.

  4. Perhaps the person will offer further details of their plan to give municipal funds to one of the local school districts at the upcoming budget hearings.

  5. AG

    Step 1. Write a check to the school district.

    Step 2. School district cashes check.

    Step 3. Ta-dah!

  6. What about the other school districts in town – are we giving municipal funds to them, too? And where is all this money going to come from?

  7. Bob and Beer

    We love crapping on the sidewalk no one can stop us. CRAP NATION!

  8. Dr Tom

    So what happens when a handicapped person is stuck using the public restroom. If that person is dying of cancer, or AIDS, or transplantation of an organ, they have no immunity to colds and viruses. Sounds like they may sue the city and the manufacturer of the bathroom.

  9. Right, because that happens ALL the time.

  10. Dr Tom

    Check out the ones they have in Amsterdam and Paris. People insert ~50 cents a door opens and they have 10 minutes to do their thing. When they leave, the door will shut, a computerized disinfection wash automatically showers and dries the entire bathroom in a matter of two minutes.

  11. You’re new to this discussion. We already talked about those. The high-tech dumpers were ruled out as too expensive and maintenance-intensive.

  12. Dr Tom

    Well, ‘kevpod’ that means you just don’t care about the people who are helpless and ill. Real intelligent ‘kevpod’.

  13. Mark Sailors

    I think it’s probably better for the local economy to employ a person to mantain the restrooms rather than pay an out of area tech-toilet company $.50 for each turd taken…

  14. macadoshius

    If the Dr. is worried about a dying disabled catchin a cold..he just needs to look in the ditches at the marsh..As far as “throwing away $20k” post..if you crunch the numbers,the city will make money in the long run.Since they have been struggling to clean it up anyhow in the short run..if these posts are a sample of real ideas..they need a flush

  15. That’s an awesome extrapolation, Tom. Pointing out that the high-tech toilets have already been discussed in Arcata means I “don’t care about the people who are helpless and ill.” Hey, maybe I’m in league with Hitler, too?

    Your evidentiary standard is as low as your punctuation skills are underdeveloped.

  16. macadoshius

    Hey Doc..we care enough about metally ill/disabled folks to include you in the conversation…..get real dude…did another patient die?

  17. Ian Ray

    Dr. Tom has a point. What if a person was so thirsty that they had to plug up the bathroom sink and drink out of it with a straw? Think of the potential health problems in that scenario.

  18. R.A.

    The plaza has needed a bathroom for more than twenty years. School budgets are a completely different issue. A city cannot allocate money like a household can. Harass the state on that issue! It makes some sense to levy a small tax on the plaza businesses that refuse to allow their patrons (for whatever reasons) use of the bathrooms that already exist all around the plaza. Ideally there should be two bathrooms – one for each of the two economic classes that populate downtown. Businesses could have a combination or keycard system for the Eye Candy Happy Crapper the other should be located a little off the plaza and built like a WWII bomb shelter with guard dogs and a SWAT team checking ID’s. Either way, maintenance is going to be expensive. What is it worth NOT to have a town with streets paved in urine and feces? Been to India or Mexico lately? As for the element of people nobody really wants here. It is irritatingly unconstitutional to ban them from town but perfectly legal to arrest them for every ridiculously petty thing imaginable. It is an awful way to have to think but unless we make the town un-palatable to the undesirable it will soon enough go the way of virtually every other horror show town in the state – and no it isn’t there yet. Most of these folks are like water and will follow the path of least resistance in both their bodily functions and their geographic location. Yes, we need a bathroom. We need one with a plan, an objective, a vision of the community we want to live in ten years from now. We need practical and cost effective ideas and we need them about five years ago.

  19. Oh hey

    Worst idea ever.

  20. macadoshius

    Yeah…what R.A. posted was pretty well said..i’d of used more cuss words, but to each his own.Bottom line is, the place needs a crapper..somewhere between a diamond-encrusted auto flusher with wi-fi,,,to a bunker carved from a single block of steel..seems we tryed to land this corn-fed-browntrout issue before…

  21. Ian Ray

    I think we all look forward to peeing in whatever toilet is approved.

  22. I’ve unilaterally decided that henceforth I’m going to delete the more moronic name-calling comments that come on on this topic, like this one for example: “Retarded city counsel jackasses.”

    Thing is, the council (not counsel) is called names like fascists and idiots when they DON’T implement a public restroom, then this guy calls them jackasses for trying to solve a problem. So all the abusive names cancel out and we’re left with a persistent issue that now, finally, SOMEONE is attempting to solve.

    The solution may fail. But at least we will have tried.

  23. R.A.

    Agreeing with Kevpod. Name calling is not problem solving. The council is at least attempting to tackle an historically loaded topic and that makes them vulnerable to scatological abuse. We can’t expect them to suddenly have the perfect solution to a problem that, likely, has no perfect solution. I don’t know if it needs to look like a charm bracelet or a shoe box, be a pit in the ground, or be able to recycle urine into drinking water. At some point though, it needs to actually be SOMETHING besides a lot of talk that gets shelved because of all the pointless squabbling and angry pointed fingers. What is going to happen when this town faces a serious problem? A lot of public works involve the actual public submitting ideas – Make it a contest. Winner gets something good, and/or just incorporate the best ideas. Heck, involve the people currently using the street – they might even have a few entertaining, and maybe even practical, suggestions. Who can design an elegant low cost bathroom that can be easily maintained and used by everyone? Can it be environmentally appropriate too? Is Arcata still behind that concept – skylights/solar panels/roof garden/goat? I like the sink outside idea. It reduces the likelihood of long private bathing sessions. This should be an easy thing but it clearly isn’t: Safety, security, esthetics, disabilities, hygiene, economics, and the politics of entitlement verses social Darwinism all come into play. Yes, the Toilet, what a fitting symbol for all our great civilization has achieved. Don’t forget to flush!

  24. John

    You can shine a turd…but it’s still a funny looking bathroom.

    But yeah, I’ll gladly use whatever they put if I happen to pass by.

  25. DD Jackson

    Yaaaaaah virgin sprypaint waitn to get my hommeis aroun Arcata new wall cuz

  26. Tom

    Well now the dope retards like “DD Jackson” are getting the gang-banger graffiti paint ready to scribble garbage all over the place when we build this.

  27. R.A.

    If I were a wall I should think it, overall, a far friendlier and fairer fate to be painted than peed upon. The plants are a clever defense. If the plants don’t work maybe utilizing the talent of good graffiti artists to take it under their skilled and hobbled wings. It might have to be amended now and then so the discriminating good taste of the citizens of Arcata don’t find themselves “Gasp!” ofended or threatened by any suggestive images or ideas. Tagging is as old as walls themselves – maybe older. Why not sacrifice a few virgin walls to the gods of self expression? We can’t expect (or want) everyone to be pacified by the internet.

  28. Mitch

    It’s an interesting and innovative approach, halfway between pissoir and full bathroom. Would it have to be pumped out regularly, or is there plumbing hidden in that center-v, connecting to the sewer system? It would be great if the whole thing could be disassembled and moved about by truck, without needing to break pavement at test locations.

    Is having the walls not come all the way to the ground supposed to be a safety/security feature? I’d worry that if people could know when someone was “on the pot,” some high school kid would find it irresistible to toss water balloons or worse at the visible targets, and there’s no roof to prevent them from reaching their targets.

    It’s nice to see someone thinking seriously about the problem, sad to see them subjected to abuse.

  29. Ian Ray

    Mitch, the opening on the bottom is to prevent people from inhabiting the toilet. The duck blinds at the marsh were modified the same way some years ago.

  30. Cool Stevie

    Put super-glue on the crapperseat see who gets stuck and has the fire departmend pry them off.

  31. j patton

    i am so excited that the city is looking into this again. my mom (almost in her 70’s) finds the lack of a public restroom is troublesome (as do i).

    i understand all the controversy of such a communist plot, but i do really like the intent shown by the city! thanks!!!! peace


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