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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 27, 2004

We're still waiting for more restrooms

Anyone familiar with Third World cities knows that public urination and defecation is an unpleasant, but common, fact of life in a town with no public restrooms.

As civilized cities go, Honolulu has done a fine job of building public restrooms in its city parks and beach parks.

But in between the parks and beaches, there's a restroom void, particularly downtown and in the Chinatown-Iwilei-Kalihi area, where many homeless folks reside. Tourists, too, have remarked about the lack of public facilities downtown.

Nonetheless, we have a bill moving through the Legislature that would fine people who relieve themselves on public property $200 or eight hours of community service.

We sympathize with the bill's intentions, to stop unhygienic and antisocial behavior from fouling up the streets.

But first we must do what other civilized cities do, and install public restrooms where there's clearly a critical demand. For example, the bill's supporters complain that waiting bus riders are forced to relieve themselves in bushes or behind the shelter.

From a downtown revitalization perspective, it's easy to see how people with bladder problems and families with small children would avoid strolling in areas that lack public facilities.

Until more facilities are installed, it's not fair to impose a fine on folks who have no other alternative, just as it would be in the Third World.