Costa Mesa Sanitary District approves plan to test mobile restrooms for the homeless – Orange County Register

COSTA MESA The Costa Mesa Sanitary District has agreed to partner with the city to rent and maintain a mobile restroom for the homeless that would be stationed at various locations throughout the city.

The agency will contribute $21,500 toward the six-month pilot program, board members decided in a unanimous vote Thursday, Dec. 1. The remainder of the cost would come from the city, which has not yet voted on the matter.

“This is a baby step,” said sanitary district Vice President James Ferryman. “But it is a baby step that we need to do.”

The Sanitary District first floated the idea of making new restrooms available to the homeless in January, saying the lack of access to proper facilities would lead to homeless people defecating and urinating in public, creating a health risk, according to a staff report.

Costa Mesa has grappled with complaints in past years that some public restrooms are being used for illegal activity.

The restroom unit would feature a flushing toilet, a sink, mirror, soap, paper dispenser, a built-in trash receptacle and solar panels to power lights and a fan, said Scott Carroll, general manager for the sanitary district.

A paid attendant would staff and maintain the facility — making sure it is clean and monitoring its use.

“That’s what makes the program successful, is having someone there all the time making sure the restrooms are being used for what they’re intended for,” Carroll said.

Carroll suggested reaching out to the Network for Homeless Solutions, a collection of city staff, volunteers, local churches and nonprofits that address homeless issues in the city, to run the restroom program.

Similar mobile restroom programs have found varying degrees of success in other cities. San Francisco saw a decrease in human waste on the streets, resulting in a reduction of staff hours needed to clean the streets and allowing the city to shift resources to address other needs, according to a staff report.

Miami also saw a reduction in complaints about human waste in the streets, and the program was well-received by local businesses. the report said. Sacramento saw improvements in areas where the restrooms were located, but none beyond that.

Councilman John Stephens, who has advocated for the partnership between the sanitary district and the city, said he could possibly bring the idea to the City Council in January.

“It’s a public health risk,” he said, citing a recent hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego that raged…

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