Fault Line Park
Public restrooms at Fault Line Park on Nov. 2, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In our piece this week by Bella Ross about the deficiency of public restrooms in San Diego as yet another fecal-linked disease spreads among homeless residents, the mayor’s office was surprisingly hostile to the questions we sent them.

We wanted to pull out more context from the full statement his office sent over, via senior advisor of communications David Rolland.

“We categorically reject your conclusion that the City has struggled to address this issue. Our data show that there are at least 23 public restrooms in Downtown alone. The City also has public restrooms available across the City in our libraries, recreation centers and neighborhood parks. Importantly, the goal here isn’t to add as many permanent public bathrooms as possible. The goal is to help get unsheltered residents off the streets and into safe, sanitary shelter and permanent housing. And this City, under this Mayor, is doing just that, with an unprecedented level of person-centered street outreach and by working to add various types of shelter and housing capacity that meets a wide range of unique personal needs.”

“The report you referenced is the state audit that then-Assemblymember Gloria requested be completed; however, your premise about the ‘role of low restroom access’ is inaccurate. In fact, it’s not even included in the Auditor’s recommendations to the City (or the County). The problem the State Auditor identified was a lack of coordination between the City and County to deploy restrooms amidst the Hepatitis A outbreak. That was a consistent theme throughout the entire audit.”

There’s more. There are plenty of restrooms and also they urgently placed more temporary ones on downtown streets.

“Having said that, the City has added portable bathrooms since the Hepatitis A outbreak occurred during the previous administration. And in close collaboration with the County (which serves as the region’s lead public-health agency), the City responded immediately and decisively to the recent shigella outbreak by deploying additional bathrooms and hand-washing stations.”

What’s your take on the availability and state of public restrooms in San Diego?

Related: Gloria unveiled a sidewalk cleaning pilot program Tuesday that involves a deep-cleaning process to remove grime and build-up from sidewalks in downtown, beach areas and the city’s southern neighborhoods.

City News Service reports that unlike regular sidewalk sanitation efforts, which is spraying a mixture of water and bleach, the city’s new program, known as “Sidewalk Reset” involves a deep-cleaning that can take up to two hours per city block.

The city has used sidewalk cleaning efforts to address public health concerns related to outbreaks. The city did this during the Hepatitis A outbreak and again recently in response to a shigella outbreak. An NBC7 investigation reported that the city spends nearly $1 million a year cleaning human feces and other biohazards off city streets. It approved more funding for it earlier this month.

As Ross reported on Tuesday, advocates argue the city needs to address the reason why human feces ends up on streets in the first place.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Managing Editor, Daily News Andrea oversees the production of daily news stories for Voice of San Diego. She...

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