We received a complaint from a friend of the Coalition about a woman relieving herself behind a vehicle near the financial district of Downtown Cleveland (between East 6th St. and East 9th St. in the old Short North). She was shocked that this homeless woman was outside using the bathroom. I asked one of the full time social workers helping people in the Downtown area where people could go to use the bathroom. Here is her response: "The answer is the Library, city/county buildings with ID, the courthouses, and Justice Center. All other buildings are private." We have basically six locations downtown with public restrooms and two require ID and all require going through a metal detector.
The Coalition and most of the social service agencies have realized that this was a problem. The Downtown Cleveland Alliance, the Cleveland Police Department and the Parks and Recreation folks have all seen this as an issue. A few years back, Jim Schlecht of Care Alliance developed a plan for portable restrooms, found people who would clean them, located space, got police approval for a location. Everyone signed off on the plan, but it was shut down by the City of Cleveland. The DCA had looked into self cleaning nice tourist friendly stand alone facilities, but were again shut down by the City.
For some reason, the administration does not want to see public restrooms in Downtown Cleveland. It is so strange that there is all this talk of a 24 hour city and yet no where can a slightly intoxicated tourist or suburbanite relieve themselves unless they get into a bar or business or go behind a car. I know that homeless people get blamed for this many times, and I am sure that there are many homeless people relieving themselves in public, there are also many pedestrians doing this. As a former bartender downtown, I can tell you that I have seen hundreds of my nicely dressed suburban patrons who would relieve themselves behind a building or between cars, both men and women, because the bars had closed and there was no where else to go. If the City is going to move to a vibrant and active city, they are going to have to fund and locate public restrooms downtown like they have done in San Francisco, London, or Philadelphia (pictured here).
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