A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council votes down draft of portable-loo law

Written August 10th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Here’s a photo from the flles of the portable restroom that started the long Albany council debate about such facilities.

The subject of portable toilets just won’t die as far as the Albany City Council is concerned. On Wednesday the council voted down a porta-potty ordinance, but you can bet that in one form or another the topic will come up again.

The problem is that the city code does not allow the placement of portable toilets except temporarily at construction sites and for special events such as outdoor concerts. (The code ignores all the portable toilets in city parks.)

But while the code says no, the council has said yes to the portable toilet that First Christian Church has maintained outside its building on Washington Street downtown. The church put the thing there in 2019 as a service to homeless people, especially those taking part in the congregation’s outdoor free meal service on Thursday nights.

It has fallen to the city staff to reconcile what the council wants with its own reluctance to just allow portable toilets on private property anywhere and any time, without the city getting involved.

The staff drafted an ordinance that would allow the toilets but regulate them. Among other things, permits would be limited to 90 days and one 90-day extension. The plastic loos would have to be screened. They would not be allowed near food trucks.

On Wednesday council members voiced a lot lof doubts and objections. Ray Kopczynski likened the ordinance to using “a sledgeheammer to swat a fly.”

In the end, members unanimously supported a motion “to not adopt” the ordinance. The motion was put forward by Marilyn Smith, who does not want to allow portable toilets on private property.

Public Works Director Chis Bailey and Kris Schendel, code compliance officer with the police department, asked councilors to tell them what they want in a porta-potty law.

At a work session later on, they’ll talk about that — again. (hh)

8 responses to “Council votes down draft of portable-loo law”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Cue another idiom: Stomping on piss ants while the elephants stampede by.

    The breakdown of America’s public institutions continues.

  2. Hartman says:

    Having followed Hasso’s compendium of coverage on Albany’s portable loo crisis, it seems that the City Council spends a great deal of time on largely unimportant matters; porta-potties and the composition of replacement widow frames on crumbling buildings. Given the repetition of these “issues” and a failure of any resolution, it seems clear that Albany faces few problems of real consequence. In some respects, that might be viewed as a positive sign.

    Perhaps it is time to reduce the number of City Council sessions to one meeting every two months, or just once per quarter. Cramming all the City’s business into 4-meetings annually might provide focus, allowing the leadership to come to actual conclusions rather than merely kicking the can down the road. Such a reduction would make Hasso’s reportage more challenging, a small price to pay for efficient democracy.

    • sonamata says:

      Certainly seems like the top priority is preserving & promoting a certain group’s aesthetic preferences for Downtown.

  3. thomas earl cordier says:

    My sense, since I was in attendance, Director Bailey does not trust individuals to manage toilets, so Bailey advocates the City must manage them by 90 day permit fees. Last night’s discussion ended exactly where Councilperson Novak proposed in a prior meeting. The push back last night came from two companies that rent portable toilets and supply them to industrial Albany business and school athletic grounds. Ms. Novak pointed out that Dir. Bailey should have contacted the rental companies before a written doc was put to paper

  4. Cheryl P says:

    If I’m having a party at my house and want to put rent a Honey Pot so folks aren’t traipsing through my house, then it’s none of the “City’s” freaking business…unless they are going to start paying my mortgage, insurance and property taxes.

  5. centrist says:

    It amazes me no end how many restrictive rules there are in Albany.
    My take on the population is that folks resist rules and want to choose their own way. Makes me dizzy when I think about it, but somehow things work


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