Public Restrooms are a Necessity — But so are Trained Attendants

The Hollywood Partnership is about to open the famed neighborhood’s first public restroom. The facility is going into an empty space in a building owned by the city Department of Transportation.

Hollywood’s restroom project is ambitious in its size and goals. “This first-of-its-kind restroom facility in the heart of Hollywood aims to serve as a model for our city,” says City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez, “providing about 40 bathrooms for the public with the goal of having staffing, maintenance, and cleaning available to open the restrooms 24/7.”

There has been some pushback from neighbors. “Property owners sometimes have the belief that if you put in a public restroom, it will become the restroom for the unhoused,” says Kathleen Rawson, president and chief executive officer of the Hollywood Partnership. Having a public restroom is not just about serving the homeless, she says. It’s also a way to make an area more inviting.

But choosing to open a public restroom raises many issues. For instance, what is the role of attendants? Should attendants be trained in CPR? Should they know how to administer Narcan, the treatment for opioid overdoses? When it comes to balancing downtowns’ needs for public restrooms and public safety, there are no simple answers.

More on bringing public restrooms downtown appears in the May issue of Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click below to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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