Portland loo location causing quite a stink

Portland loo location causing quite a stink

PORTLAND, Ore. – It's not the sounds of construction that have residents in the South Park Blocks irritated, it's what the workers are building.

"This is literally our front yard," said Felicia Williams, the head of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. "They're putting a toilet literally in our front yard."

The latest Portland loo is set to have its first flush in mid-July. The toilet is being placed next to Southwest Columbia but neighbors thought it was going to be 50 feet to the west on the corner. They say they should have been told about it before construction started. But that construction is almost finished, leaving those neighbors with few options.

Williams said she thought there was an agreement with the city.

"(As a) consensus decision, we decided on a location across the street adjacent to the park but not actually in it," Williams said.

But that's where it's going – a direct conflict, opponents say, with the area's historic prominence.

There are several memorials in the park blocks, including statues of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt; the Peace Plaza, and the Peace Chant sculpture. And soon to be, just a few feet away, a Portland loo toilet.

"Not appropriate – it's not an appropriate location under any circumstance," Williams said.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard said the first location had too many logistical issues like easy access to water and sewer lines and that a move of just 50 feet wasn't seen as a big deal.

"What can't be lost here is they're getting the restroom that they want," he said. "It's just not in the exact location that they wanted."

Neighbors also bring up legal issues, saying city code required them to be notified of any changes.

"A minimum of 30 days advance notice of any final decision that they make on a livability issue within our neighborhood. They did not do so," Williams said.

Leonard said he really disagrees with two things: That the loo will somehow distract from the historic nature of the park blocks, and that a location change of just 50 feet required the city to go through the approval process again with neighbors.

Neighbors are considering legal action.