A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Polco portable potty poll: Now the results

Written June 21st, 2022 by Hasso Hering

For the convenience of Farmers’ Market customers, and maybe scooter users too, a portable toilet is set up outside City Hall. This was on May 21.

Not many people took part in an online Albany poll on portable toilets. But of those who did, a majority said yes, Albany should “allow portable toilets on private property for public use.”

The Polco polling company ran the portable potty poll — call it a popo poll  if you want — for the city council, which will take up the results in a work session on July 25. The questions were designed by Kris Schendel, the code compliance officer attached to the police department.

The survey was online from April 26 till May 11. Someone asked me about the results, so I inquired.

City spokesman Matt Harrington told me Tuesday that 134 “certified Albany voters” took the survey. (I didn’t know being an Albany voter was a qualification. What if you are an Albany taxpayer? Did your answers count?)

Of the 134 people who took part, 77 or 57 percent answered yes to the main question, whether portables should be allowed.

Sixty respondents said portables should be allowed in residential neighborhoods, while 17 people said no to that question.

As for what would be a good period of time that portables should be allowed, 40 people picked “over six months.” Shorter time periods got a smattering of responses each.

But 15 people preferred “other” as a time period. The comments included “case by case” and “as long as they are maintained, no time limit.”

One person wrote: “As long as they want it there because it’s none of your business.”

The municipal code in Albany limits the temporary placement of portable toilets to special events and construction sites. It says nothing about the portables permanently deployed in city parks.

The city council recently granted the First Christian Church downtown permission to keep a portable toilet in place for another year. Anyone can use it, but it’s there mostly for the homeless people taking part in the church’s free meal program on Thursday nights.

At the time the council also said it would consider modifying the city code on portable loos.

“After the work session in July,” Harrington told me, “council may request more comprehensive outreach and/or additional surveying about this subject to get a larger sample size.” (hh)

8 responses to “Polco portable potty poll: Now the results”

  1. Lisa Poppleton Farnam says:

    The only thing better than a portable potty would be a permanent municipal structure. Too many times I’ve been in a city and needed a restroom and none of the businesses will let you use theirs unless you’re a customer. Walk up and down 1st Ave and see how many businesses have a sign on the door “No public restroom.” (No, I’m not a registered Albany voter—I live out of state.)

  2. Brandon says:

    Ridiculous! They will turn into druggie hangouts, sleeping quarters and what about private property rights!!

  3. Carol Gascoigne says:

    Most free meal sites have restrooms that clients can use.

    I am more inclined towards permanent structures with the short term exception for construction workers or special events

    As long as you are an Albany resident you should be able to vote in the polls. It is NOT the city’s business if you are a voter

  4. Rick Staggenborg says:

    The portable potty at the church is available 24-7 and used regularly every day. After all. as Lisa points out, there are no public alternatives nearby.

    No one has been found to be sleeping in it yet. What a novel suggestion! And it’s hardly necessary to use drugs in one. That’s another very creative excuse to deny access to meet a human need that’s going to be satisfied somewhere if nothing else is available-like maybe a neighbor’s bushes?

  5. CHEZZ says:

    The porta potty is a good solution – I hope they continue to keep the City Hall downtown pot there permanently. It is a viable option for anyone having the need. I hope a few more are put in downtown. There is no maintenance for them that is incurred like a permanent restroom. A permanent restroom must be continually monitored – for supplies and cleaning. Plus, permanent restrooms (like in the parks) have to be built to handle vandalism – like stuffing the toilets, kicking out sinks, graffiti, and even more issues. It is unbelievable what folks do to the city/county restrooms.

  6. Paul Breen says:

    Brandon may be correct that these spaces might be used for unintended purposes, (though he would be advised to read the first sentence of the article). I would argue if a portable toilet looks like the best place to find a moment’s privacy or a place to spend the night that indicates a very sad situation for both that particular individual as well as our society at large. There are no easy answers to the problem of homelessness and the results of the current situation are frustrating, costly, and often ugly. We as a community and a nation have to agree to start talking constructively and genuinely about this and our other problems.

  7. Bob Bush says:

    What is it about basic needs for people???……For years bathrooms have been eliminated from Interstates,cities, private places, etc…..I get it….lived in third world countries that have public bathrooms with attendants…at least you don’t have to mess your pants looking for a place to go. But, this is America. You require porta pots for contractors, yet the police will ticket you for public urination. It’s a basic need. City of Albany could use the profits from scooters to pay for rentals and the flower watering person could sanitize them on his route; everything else is being sanitized here. And for those who saw me at a 4th of July parade, I did pee my pants in down town because I couldn’t find a bathroom open. You want downtown to survive, but you don’t want to take care of it. Porta pots don’t attract people but they are a necessary evil. Think that over….

  8. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “City of Albany could use the profits from scooters to pay for…”

    The City of Albany derives NO revenue from Bird or it’s local fleet manager. It’s a private business…


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