A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On portable toilets, Albany tries again

Written October 10th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Placed temporarily last week, this portable toilet on an Albany street didn’t seem to bother anybody.

Albany is taking another run at writing a law that allows portable toilets in more places than permitted now but still retains a number of restrictions.

The city council Monday got a briefing on the latest proposal from Public Works Director Chris Bailey. Council members seemed to be OK with what they heard.

Bailey said she’ll now run the latest draft past portable toilet vendors and others who raised objections to previous versions. Then, eventually the draft will come back to the council for adoption as an amendment to the municipal code.

The motive behind the rewrite is to allow the First Christian Church downtown to keep a portable toilet outside its building for use mostly by homeless people. The council has voted to allow the church the keep the thing, but current city law doesn’t allow it.

The new draft would allow the church to keep the portable toilet.

Also, older coffee stands could have portable toilets — approved under previous code requirements if they didn’t have plumbed restrooms or toilet agreements with nearby businesses — but only for their employees. And newer stands could not.

Properties such as large plant nurseries could maintain portables for their employees and the public.

Current provisions requiring portable toilets at construction sites, and allowing them for public events, would remain.

City permits would be required if a portable remained in place for longer than 90 days. For shorter periods, no permits would be needed.

Councilwoman Matilda Novak objected to a requirement that portables be screened, saying someone told her screens had led to problems in Salem, where they are required.

Mayor Alex Johnson II also worried about this, so perhaps the screening requirement will be dropped before the draft comes back.

It’s still not clear, at least to me, why some coffee kiosks can have portable toilets and others can’t. Or why in some cases, if portables are allowed and available, only employees would be allowed to use them.

City officials have been struggling with portable toilets since early 2019, and they’re not quite through yet. Do you suppose that in a quiet moment, when no one is around to hear them, they are asking themselves, “Why in blazes did we bring this up?” (hh)

9 responses to “On portable toilets, Albany tries again”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    They can’t handle outhouses, yet they deal in large real estate such as the Cumberland Church, bank building and God might know what else. Who knows how else they conspire behind the cloak of secret meetings.

    • MarK says:

      I, for one, will NOT be voting for any of the incumbents.

    • Matthew Calhoun says:

      “Secret meetings” haha you old conspiracy nuts on this site are always good for a laugh. Pretty sure their meetings are open and freely available to come down to watch or talk. And if you’re too lazy for that you can always boot up your windows 95 pc and get on the AOL to watch online.

  2. Patricia Eich says:

    This reminds me of when we visited Alaska in 2011. Many more remote locations did not have plumbing; portables or outhouses were the only option.When we asked for the toilet, the store owner or gas station attendant would point outside and say, “out there”. Even in Fields, Oregon at the Fields Station store and restaurant, the only bathroom facility is a portable.

  3. Tanya says:

    Portable units should be allowed on personal property of owners owner’s property without a permit as well as businesses without a permit. What the issue was that the city should have to get permission from a home owner first before placing a porta potty unit out front on their home, and the issue was about using these portable pottys out front of a person’s personal home when this issue was brought up for the community to get thoughts of our wants from this issue.

  4. Hartman says:

    When Nature calls, even Kings must answer.

  5. thomas earl cordier says:

    There is no statement in the proposed language that says: no permit is required if the portable toilet is sited for less than 90 days. Ms. Novak was surprised to learn that during the discussion. A reader would need to assume that after a thorough reading.
    More clarity is needed.

  6. centrist says:

    Been many stops with little males needing to water a bush


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