Image by The Portland Loo used with permission.

In downtown DC, there are only five publicly-available restrooms (they’re off the Mall), and only two of them are available 24 hours. A new bill in front of the DC Council hopes to address this problem, and it’s finally in front of the council for a pair of votes. Can you help us make sure it passes before the end of the year?

 

Sign the petition!

Here’s what the bill does

The Public Restroom Installation and Promotion Act of 2018 (Bill 22-0223) directs the DC government to establish a working group to explore solutions to the lack of public restrooms downtown. The group will consist of multiple DC agencies, as well as five non-governmental representatives: two from DC homelessness nonprofits, one non-profit with a focus on issues affecting seniors, one nonprofit with a focus on public health, and one individual with expertise in urban planning.

Once formed, the working group will work with local Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and ANCs to:

  • Identify locations for two stand-alone, 24/7 public restroom facilities in high need locations in the District
  • Create a Community Restroom Incentive Pilot Program that would provide financial incentives to businesses in a selected BID to open their restrooms to the public

The bill also charges the Metropolitan Police Department with monitoring police reports at or near the restrooms. At the end of the first year this data and the costs of the programs will be evaulated to decide whether to continue or expand one or both pilot programs.

Positive steps forward

After languishing in committee for months, there was a risk that this bill would need to be reintroduced next year and restart the legislative process. However, on Monday, November 19 (World Toilet Day) the Committee on Transportation and Environment voted Bill 22-0223 out of Committee. Voting in favor were Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Charles Allen, Jack Evans, and Kenyan McDuffie.

Then, just this week the bill passed unanimously ouf othe Committee of Health, with Councilmembers Vincent Gray, Brianne Nadeau, and David Grosso voting in favor. This clears the way for the bill to be introduced to the Council of the Whole for a final series of votes in December.

Sign our petition to bring it all home!

This is progress! When we last called upon the council to act on this bill, the biggest enemy was inertia and it getting lost among the other priorities of the DC Council. Now we have the momentum, let’s let the council know we want them to finish the job!

So far more than 700 individuals have signed our petition asking for a final vote on the bill. If you haven’t signed already, please do, and share with your friends and neighbors.

 

Sign the petition!

Marcia Bernbaum, retired from a 20-year career in international development with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is a proud member of the People for Fairness Coalition (PFFC). Since 2014 she has been Mentor and Advisor to PFFC's Downtown DC Public Restroom Initiative which advocates for clean, safe, public restrooms available for everyone in needed areas of Washington, DC. You can email her questions about the initiative at marcy@pffcdc.org.