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The Portland Loo is a public toilet system built by Madden Fabrication in Portland, Oregon. It has been adopted by multiple other municipitalities. The "flagship toilet" is in Portland's Old Town Chinatown neighborhood.
By mid 2014, there were 7 Portland Loos between The Fields Park and the South Park Blocks. Marketing for the restroom was then transferred from the city to Madden Fabrication. By February 2016, there were 21 restrooms installed in eight U.S. states and British Columbia.
In mid 2016, the San Diego toilet was called "a magnet for crime and homelessness". Defenders of homeless rights called criticism of the Portland Loo a focus point for "systematic denial of humanity to homeless people".
Intellectual property issues
When Portland commissioned the design of the loos, it retained the intellectual property rights to the design, and would receive a royalty from the manufacturer, for each loo it sold. Press reports described this arrangement as a source of funds, for the city. However, in 2014, a citizen group sued the city, asserting the city had spent over $600,000 to promote the loos, without proper authorization. As a consequence the design was sold to Madden, the manufacturer.
Design and placement issues
The loos can be solar powered. They are 6 feet (1.8 m) x 10.5 feet (3.2 m), so a user can wheel in a bicycle, or baby-stroller. Only the toilet itself is inside; the water spigot is on the outside, a measure designed to discourage homeless people from using the washroom to wash their clothes.
Albuquerque did not recess its loo within the park where it was placed. It placed the loo so its door opened directly on to a sidewalk, facing the street, a measure to make it easier for neighbours to notice suspicious activity.
In 2012 individual units cost $60,000 (USD) each. In 2017 Albuquerque bought a unit at auction for $20,000, which had cost San Diego $100,000. However KRQE reported many cities had found it cost another $100,000 to bring water to their loos. The Missoulian reported that it cost $500,000 to install San Diego's problematic loo.
When a concrete pad on which to place the loo has been prepared, in advance, complete with utility connections, one of the prefab loos can be installed in as little as two hours.
At the back of the loos there is a maintenance closet, that includes a pressure hose with which maintenance workers can clean the loo by pressure spray.
In popular culture
Cities that have purchased one or more Portland loos
|Dunedin, New Zealand||2016||1|
- Ben Schiller (2016-09-09). "The Ultimate Public Toilet Is As Low-Tech As It Gets". Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/3063575/the-ultimate-public-toilet-is-as-low-tech-as-it-gets. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "But, make no mistake, the Portland Loo is highly engineered. When it was developed in the Oregon city of Portland, the police, fire department, maintenance crews all gave their input, and the process cost close to $250,000. It was worth it, though. Increasingly, the Portland Loo is the potty of choice among American cities, many of which are fed with the hassles that go with more automated facilities."
- Robinson, Melia (October 3, 2016). "Portland, Oregon, spent $250,000 to reinvent the public toilet — and it worked". Business Insider (Axel Springer SE). Archived from the original on 2018-07-10. https://web.archive.org/web/20180710235035/http://www.businessinsider.com/portland-loo-perfect-public-toilet-2016-10. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Brad Schmidt. "City flushes its role marketing and selling Portland Loo public restrooms". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. https://web.archive.org/web/20171113060347/http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/07/portland_flushes_its_role_mark.html. Retrieved 12 November 2017. "Efforts to market and sell the Portland Loo have been transferred from the city to restroom manufacturer Madden Fabrication as part of a royalty agreement inked by officials last month."
- "The Portland Loo is going to Harvard (and we're so proud)". The Oregonian. 2016-02-08. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. https://web.archive.org/web/20171113112658/http://www.oregonlive.com/geek/2016/02/the_portland_loo_is_going_to_h.html. Retrieved 12 November 2017. "Portland Loo now has 21 fully armed and operational public toilets located in eight states and British Columbia, including seven in its home town."
- Edward Keenan (2018-11-07). "In our quest for livability, we’ve forgotten about public washrooms". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2018-11-08. https://web.archive.org/web/20181108145501/https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2018/11/07/in-our-quest-for-livability-weve-forgotten-about-public-washrooms.html. "Perhaps the shining example is Portland, Oregon, where by simple design, the “Portland Loo” has become a civic success story: resistant to vandalism and misuse mostly through design, open to everyone for free, paid for not through a convoluted advertising contract but by public money, because they are a public good."
- Marcia Bernbaum, George Olivar, Janet Sharp, John McDermott (2018-10-10). "Tell the DC Council: We need more public bathrooms downtown". Greater Greater Washington. Archived from the original on 2018-10-10. https://web.archive.org/web/20181010183834/https://ggwash.org/view/69395/tell-the-dc-council-we-need-more-public-bathrooms-downtown. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "DC only has five public restrooms downtown. It could stand to add a few like these, from Portland, OR."
- Walsh, Lynn (August 26, 2016). "Portland Loo in East Village Attracting Crime, Neighbors Say: SDPD has responded to the intersection where the East Village Portland Loo is located 20 percent more often than before it was installed, data shows.". KNSD (San Diego, California). Archived from the original on 2018-01-02. https://web.archive.org/web/20180102222213/https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Portland_Loo_in_East_Village_Attracting_Crime_Neighbors_Say-390511262.html. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Scott, Joe (January 15, 2016). "Why Are Bathrooms the Place to Air Our Politics? From issues of gender-bullying to discrimination against homeless people, safe and reliable bathroom access is a hot political topic these days.". Yes!. Archived from the original on 2018-03-02. https://web.archive.org/web/20180302021130/http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/toilets-its-time-to-air-out-the-issue-20160115. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Aaron Mesh (2013-05-14). "Money Bucket". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon). Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. https://web.archive.org/web/20171113112845/http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-20644-money-bucket.html. Retrieved 12 November 2017. "Why? If Peterson, supervising two marketing consultants working on commission, can sell enough loos to other cities, the proceeds will pay the cleaning bill for the six public toilets Portland has already installed."
- Brad Schmidt (2014-03-11). "Judge: Portland City Council overreached on Portland Loos, voter-owned elections". Oregon Live. Archived from the original on 2016-11-09. https://web.archive.org/web/20161109235932/http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/03/judge_portland_city_council_ov.html. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "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 service and have proposed paying for them with general fund money in the future."
- Friesen, Peter. "An Il-Loo-minating experience in Missoula's Art Park". Missoulian (Lee Enterprises). ISSN 0746-4495. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. https://web.archive.org/web/20171113060342/http://missoulian.com/news/local/an-il-loo-minating-experience-in-missoula-s-art-park/article_bb90b143-9acc-5365-a937-b4cdf79584e4.html. Retrieved 12 November 2017. "Almost every one of the Loo’s features, which initially may seem flaws, actually is designed to deal with specific public bathroom issues."
- "Portland loo: An unique solution to a universal problem". theloo. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. https://web.archive.org/web/20171113112933/http://theloo.biz/. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The unit’s hand-washing station is mounted on the exterior to promote shorter use times and to serve the general pedestrian population."
- Murphy, Kim (August 29, 2012). "Portland Loo, a public toilet2 that skips to the head of its class: The Oregon city has successfully tackled several urban issues with its solar-powered, not-that-private public toilets. Now other cities smell a winner.". Los Angeles Times (Tronc). ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. Archived from the original on 2016-05-29. https://web.archive.org/web/20160529125139/http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/29/nation/la-na-08-29-portland-loo-20120829. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Jackie Kent (2018-10-02). "City has yet to install $20,000 Portland Loo". KRQE (Albuquerque). Archived from the original on 2018-11-06. https://web.archive.org/web/20181106141804/https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/city-has-yet-to-install-20-000-portland-loo/1493139398. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "More than a year after the city bought a fancy portable bathroom from the city of San Diego off the auction block, it's still sitting unused. The Portland Loo is an addition to downtown many in Albuquerque say would bring relief."
- Jim Redden (2018-02-01). "Portland Loos making a splash beyond city". Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on 2018-02-01. https://web.archive.org/web/20180201164042/http://pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/385384-273337-portland-loos-making-a-splash-beyond-city-/. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "Portland hosts 15 of the Loos, while Victoria, British Columbia, and Galveston, Texas, have five each. The farthest one is located along Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world and a popular tourist attraction in the city of Dunedin, New Zealand."
- Randy A. Simes (2015-02-05). "First ‘Portland Loo’ Public Toilet Facility to Open Along Cincinnati’s Central Riverfront". Urban Cincinatti. Archived from the original on 2016-07-17. https://web.archive.org/web/20160717023644/http://www.urbancincy.com:80/2015/02/first-portland-loo-public-toilet-facility-to-open-along-cincinnatis-central-riverfront/. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "Using just 1.28 gallons of water per flush, the toilets are also comparable to sustainable low-flush toilets that use anywhere between 1.1 to 1.6 gallons of water per flush."
- Rene Bruemmer (2017-07-25). "Oh, the places you’ll go! Public toilets return to Montreal". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 2018-06-15. https://web.archive.org/web/20180615233509/http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-enters-brave-new-world-of-public-toilets. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "It also has a sink for hand-washing on the outside to discourage bathing and laundry-washing, and a concrete floor and a back door so workers can use a pressure washer several times a day to hose it down."
- Aaron Mesh (2013-05-03). "Portland Sells Another Loo to Canada". Williamette Week. Archived from the original on 2018-11-09. https://web.archive.org/web/20181109005213/https://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-30129-portland-sells-another-loo-to-canada.html. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The sale to Nanaimo comes three months after Portland sold a Loo to Ketchikan, Alaska, and one year after the first toilet the City of Portland sold—to Victoria, British Columbia—was voted "Canada's Best Restroom.""
- Brock Parker (2013-09-01). "Public toilet urged for Cambridge Common". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2017-03-18. https://web.archive.org/web/20170318101538/https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/09/01/group-seeks-public-toilet-cambridge-common/qqPJ4IwgfxD6EcqS3afY0O/story.html. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "Now, a loose coalition of churches, homelessness organizations, and businesses have launched a campaign called Advocates for a Common Toilet, in an effort to get a public restroom for the Cambridge Common. 'Where Would Jesus Go?' says one slogan. 'I Heart Toilets,' says another."
- Steve Annear (2016-02-08). "Cambridge to open city’s first freestanding outdoor public toilet". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2018-02-06. https://web.archive.org/web/20180206010330/https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/02/08/cambridge-open-city-first-freestanding-outdoor-public-toilet/WKAELRk7GpLPSUZg7xLCYI/story.html. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "In picking a design for a public bathroom, officials opted for one modeled after the “Portland Loo,” a shiny, oblong structure made of stainless steel that was first made famous in Portland, Ore."
- Seelye, Katharine Q. (March 6, 2016). "Heroin Epidemic Increasingly Seeps Into Public View". The New York Times Company. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Archived from the original on 2018-02-11. https://web.archive.org/web/20180211040228/https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/07/us/heroin-epidemic-increasingly-seeps-into-public-view.html. Retrieved November 12, 2017. "The kiosk, called the Portland Loo and made in Oregon, was designed specifically to discourage drug use. It has slanted slats at the bottom that allow the police — or anyone — to peer in and see if someone has passed out on the concrete floor. It has no heat, air conditioning or noise insulation, all meant to foil anyone from getting too comfortable inside. The hand-washing faucet is outside, and an attendant cleans four times a day."
- Sharon Coolidge (2015-01-27). "24-hour 'Portland Loo' coming to Cincinnati". Cincinnati Enquirer. Archived from the original on 2018-11-08. https://web.archive.org/web/20181108150254/https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/01/27/portland-loo-coming-cincy/22416263/?from=global&sessionKey=. "The first Portland Loo – purchased with private donations – will be unveiled this June at the new Smale Riverfront Park. Others could follow."
- Dickson, Amelia (June 9, 2017). "Downtown porta-potty has 100+ visitors each day. This is the city's solution.". The Olympian (Olympia, Washington: The McClatchy Company). ISSN 0746-7575. OCLC 10253415. Archived from the original on 2018-11-08. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theolympian.com%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Farticle155406614.html&date=2018-11-08. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- "San Diego Installed Public Loos, But Now They're Flush with Problems". National Public Radio (NPR). April 10, 2015. Archived from the original on 2017-11-12. https://web.archive.org/web/20171123155218/https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/08/10/431240543/san-diego-installed-public-loos-but-now-theyre-flush-with-problems. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Alex Zielinski (2017-06-15). "In Defense of San Antonio's $100,000 Toilet". San Antonio Current. Archived from the original on 2018-09-24. https://web.archive.org/web/20180924164559/https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2017/06/15/in-defense-of-san-antonios-thousand-dollar-toilet. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "San Antonio Police Department officers issued 104 citations for public urination in the ten months prior to the loo opening, according to records obtained by the local Fox affiliate. Ten months after its July installation, and that number's been cut in half — officers have only handed out 51 citations. In an interview with Fox, SAPD spokesperson Sgt. Jesse Salame linked this significant drop to the new bathroom and said that businesses have noted a clear difference in the amount of human waste left near their downtown doorsteps."
- Zielinski, Alex. "San Antonio Quietly Unveiled Another $95,000 Toilet". San Antonio Current (Euclid Media Group). Archived from the original on 2018-03-03. https://web.archive.org/web/20180303022535/https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2017/10/25/san-antonio-quietly-unveiled-another-95000-toilet. Retrieved 12 November 2017. "There has been little public uproar about this equally-pricey sibling of the downtown loo. Perhaps that's because the San Antonio Police Department saw its public urination citations cut in half since the downtown restroom opened its door, or because Centro's cleanup crew saw a 27 percent drop in "cleaning efforts related to human waste" near the loo."
- Smith, Joshua Emerson (September 23, 2017). "Homeless say public restrooms severely impacted, defecation continues in the streets". The San Diego Union-Tribune (Tronc). ISSN 1063-102X. Archived from the original on 2018-11-07. https://web.archive.org/web/20181107205412/http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/hepatitis-crisis/sd-me-restrooms-homeless-hepatitis-20170922-story.html. Retrieved November 12, 2017. "Chatting about the state of public restrooms, Lofton recalls the Portland Loo that the city removed from 14th and L streets next to the Petco Park parking lot. It was ripped out by the city in 2016 after about a year in operation, during which time businesses owners and residents complained about drugs, crime and lewd activity near the facility. 'It used to be a rarity to see feces on the ground,' Lofton said. 'Now it’s a commonplace thing. These people are acting like animals because people are treating them like animals.'"
- Patty Hastings (2018-10-10). "Portland Loos installed at Waterfront Vancouver". Daily Columbian. Archived from the original on 2018-10-10. https://web.archive.org/web/20181010201608/https://www.columbian.com/news/2018/oct/10/portland-loos-installed-at-waterfront-vancouver/. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "Just east of WildFin American Grill are two restrooms manufactured by The Portland Loo. The loos are designed to prevent crime, including vandalism and illegal drug use. The first loo was installed in Portland more than a decade ago, but the pair at the waterfront are the first for the city of Vancouver. The facilities are typically put in urban areas with sizeable tourist populations, said Evan Madden, sales manager at The Portland Loo."
- Lydia Anderson (2016-12-21). [https://web.archive.org/web/20180211012832/http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/320937/not-all-relieved-by-new-steepest-street-loo "Not all relieved by new steepest-street loo 9:03 am on 21 December 2016"]. Radio New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2018-02-11. https://web.archive.org/web/20180211012832/http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/320937/not-all-relieved-by-new-steepest-street-loo. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "Dunedin City Council has long promised to install a toilet and one has now been put in on North Road, near the entrance to Baldwin Street, and today it is making good on that."
- David Loughrey (2017-08-18). "budget". Otago Daily Times. https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/baldwin-st-toilet-drain-budget. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The Portland loo was lauded when it was proposed as being easy to maintain with no tiles or electronic doors and few moving parts. They were favoured by police overseas, as "nefarious" activities were less easy to undertake than in fully enclosed toilets."
- Johnny Diaz (2018-09-19). "Gotta go? Miami opens permanent public bathroom in downtown". Sun Sentinel. https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/miami-dade/fl-ne-miami-permanent-bathroom-public-20180918-story.html. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The sleek facility, which looks like an elongated kiosk or booth, includes a toilet, sink, a safe needle disposal area. There’s also an attendant."
- Joey Flechas (2018-09-19). "While Miami tries to end protection of homeless from police, city debuts public toilet". Miami Herald. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/downtown-miami/article218663225.html. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The restroom helps people who in the past had fewer places to relieve themselves. The lack of options has been well-documented in recent years, including a “poop map” created by the downtown authority that documented human feces and urine found in public around downtown. A pilot portable toilet program was deemed successful in attracting more than 100 flushes a day and keeping the streets cleaner, so much so that officials moved forward with the permanent restroom. Construction on the permanent toilet began in April."
- Aaron Mesh (2013-02-18). "Alaska Would Like to Buy a Portland Loo, Please". Williamette Week. Archived from the original on 2018-11-09. https://web.archive.org/web/20181109004725/https://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-29780-alaska-would-like-to-buy-a-portland-loo-please.html. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The Ketchikan Gateway Bureau has ordered one of the city's patented stainless steel, solar-powered, open-air public toilets. But Portland can't complete the sale until the City Council gives environmental services director Dean Marriott the power to sign off on deals."
- Maria Dudzak (2014-06-16). "New loo offers relief in busy tourist season". KRBD. Archived from the original on 2016-02-14. https://web.archive.org/web/20160214121351/http://www.krbd.org:80/2014/06/16/20236/. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "With public restrooms few and far between in downtown Ketchikan, the much-needed facility was opened light-heartedly with plungers, poo cookies, and toilet-paper-for-napkins on hand. Borough Transit Director Kyan Reeve says the state-of-the-art design is used in Portland, Oregon and cost less than $100,000."
- Courtney Dickson (2018-02-28). "Relief comes to Kamloops in the form of free-standing restrooms: Residents and local agencies have been asking for 24-hour public toilets in downtown area". CBC News. Archived from the original on 2018-03-10. https://web.archive.org/web/20180310125601/http://www.cbc.ca:80/news/canada/british-columbia/kamloops-portland-loos-1.4556131. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "Portland Loos aren't new to the province; Smithers, Victoria and Nelson all boast the free-standing restrooms."
- Andrew Kurjata (2017-01-06). "'Canada's best toilet' being installed in Smithers, B.C.: Portland Loo is durable, low-maintenance and received praise from other B.C. cities". CBC News. Archived from the original on 2018-03-31. https://web.archive.org/web/20180331222839/http://www.cbc.ca:80/news/canada/british-columbia/canada-s-best-toilet-being-installed-in-smithers-b-c-1.3924877. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The community has been using an off-street port-a-potty in the summer months, but council voted to purchase a Portland Loo after hearing about its success in other communities as a year-round facility. Notably, a unit installed on Langley Street in Victoria was voted the best public washroom in Canada."
- Chris Gareau (2017-06-14). "Portland Loo installed". Interior News. Archived from the original on 2018-11-08. https://web.archive.org/web/20181108201202/https://www.interior-news.com/news/portland-loo-installed/. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The Portland Loo toilet was being installed June 14 on Second Avenue near Main Street. It is the first built by the Oregon company to withstand a harsher winter, with modifications meant to withstand temperatures down to -15 C."
- Chris Gareau (2017-07-06). "Smithereens skip to the loo". Interior News. Archived from the original on 2017-07-07. https://web.archive.org/web/20170707042000/http://www.interior-news.com/community/smithereens-skip-to-the-loo/. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "The Loo cost $195,000 to buy, ship and install."
- Bill Metcalfe (2017-05-26). "Nelson to install public washroom". Nelson Star. Archived from the original on 2017-06-30. https://web.archive.org/web/20170630080347/http://www.nelsonstar.com/news/nelson-to-install-public-washroom/. Retrieved 2018-11-08. "Gainham said there are now four other installations of Portland Loos in B.C. — two in Victoria, one in Nanaimo, and one to be installed in Smithers."