Seattle relieved to lose its high-tech toilets

August 17, 2008

City officials have finally gotten rid of five high-tech self-cleaning toilets that cost Seattle $5 million but sold online for just $12,549. The city installed the modernistic stand-alone toilets four years ago, hoping they would provide tourists and the homeless a place to do their business while downtown. But the automated loos became better known for drug use and prostitution than for relief. USA Today

Oh you clever headline writer you. It’s rather unfortunate that these didn’t work out. I remember seeing similar public toilets in Paris. This is a huge problem in downtown Seattle. It is difficult to find a public restroom anywhere, much less if you look like a transient. Living downtown, I have found a couple of strategic places that I can just jump into the bathroom without a code, or having to make a purchase, or being scrutinized before using it (and no I’m not telling where they are). The one truly open to the public restrooms exist in the downtown Seattle Library. The last time I walked in there, there were multiple homeless men practically camped in the bathroom, trying to wash up. One was shaving in the mirror. I have a lot of sympathy for their situation, but it was also a very uncomfortable place to be. There has to be a better way.

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