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)