Everyone needs ready access to a restroom when nature calls. Access to a clean, safe restroom is a United-Nations-recognized human right; is fundamental to human dignity; key for personal and public health; and it contributes to livable cities for everyone. Most European & Asian capitals, recognizing this, have installed public restrooms in populated public areas.
In contrast, in Washington, DC there are only five public restrooms (off the National Mall) that are open during the day. Only two are open 24/7. They’re at the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, so neither are convenient for people who need them at night.
This is an issue for everyone. We all need to use a restroom several times a day. It is specially important for people who are restroom challenged (seniors, young children, individuals taking certain medications) as when nature calls they have to go urgently. Tourists, of which DC received over 20 million in 2017, certainly benefit. So too do: walkers and joggers; bikers; taxi, Uber, Lyft and bus drivers; parents of toddlers; businesses; and those experiencing homelessness. Those who cannot find a restroom when nature calls and are caught urinating or defecating in public risk a fine of up to $500, 90 days in jail or both.
Research carried out by the People for Fairness Coalition (PFFC) Downtown DC Public Restroom Initiative inspired and informed the contents of Bill 22-0223, Public Restroom Facilities Installation & Promotion Act of 2017. Our vision is simple: nobody should have to walk more than 10 minutes in commercial areas of Washington DC to find a clean, safe available public restroom. This bill will establish a working group to identify an appropriate model and siting for 24/7 stand-alone public restrooms, and also propose a program to provide incentives to private businesses to make their restrooms available to the public during the hours they are open.
A hearing was held in January of 2018 and the bill is currently under review. If it is not brought forward for a vote by the end of this year, the legislative process must start over.
Join us in making the call on the DC Council:
In the media
Why does D.C. have so few public restrooms? - Washington Post
D.C. bill would pay businesses to open restrooms to the public - Washington Business Journal
The push for public restrooms in DC - Kojo Nnamdi
Clean, safe, and accessible public restrooms make cities livable - Greater Greater Washington
DC needs more public bathrooms. Here are three types it could adopt. - Greater Greater Washington
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