The Sacramento Regional Coalition To End Homelessness says it recently visited about three dozen city parks at night — and found none of the restrooms were open.
Executive director Bob Erlenbush says his group checked out a total of 38 city parks. "Seven never had bathrooms. Seven are closed — they're locked — which leaves 24 bathrooms that are open to the public, including people experiencing homelessness,” he said.
But he added that “none of them are [open] 24-seven; they're just from sunrise to sunset,” and he claimed that the closed restrooms are in the areas with the highest populations of homeless.
But the city says his group’s findings, which were included in a new report released by the coalition, are wrong.
The city, however, says that 29 restrooms on city facilities are open 24-seven, and that 28 of these are at parks.
Sacramento also says it sent interns out to verify additional locations, and that they found 66 restrooms at 86 city facilities.
Assistant City Manager Chris Conlin says the city will soon present a report with solutions for ways to improve how people can locate its restrooms. "We have not done a very good job of providing way-finding for people so they know where these restrooms are,” Conlin said.
He added that part of the report will suggest how to increase access and signage, which he’s seen in other cities. “I was in Berkeley last weekend and they have a pretty good signage set up," he said.
He also hopes to put information on a smartphone app. A presentation on the report is scheduled for March 20.
The city is also considering so-called Portland Loos, which are flushable kiosks on public sidewalks and land and that are more difficult to destroy. It is also exploring whether it can pay homeless people to work as bathroom monitors; it costs about $15,000 per month to repair public bathrooms that have been damaged, according to the city.
Erlenbusch is on board with these ideas.