August 11th, 2010 5:33 pm | by Hadley Malcolm News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Portland's New Place to Go. Literally.

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Portland inaugurated its second round-the-clock public bathroom this afternoon with a flush and a rush of excitement as onlookers took pictures of themselves inside the newest Portland Loo.

The 12:30 pm gathering at Southwest Taylor and Naito Parkway drew less than 30 people, but included City of Portland Commissioners Randy Leonard, Amanda Fritz and Leonard staffer Stuart Oishi, who was given the first-flushing honors. Logan Kirk, an interested passerby, was also part of the crowd and excited to witness the occasion.

“I think it's absolutely great,” he said. “It's not every day you get to see the first flush of a toilet.”

The project is the brainchild of Leonard, who has made it his personal mission to solve Portland's peeing problem. The bathrooms are designed to reduce the unwanted illegal activity that the entirely closed-off brick restrooms downtown draw, he says. “We designed this specifically to create an air of a lack of privacy,” Leonard said during the event.

The bathrooms have a louver system at the top and bottom that act like Venetian blinds, allowing police to see how many people are inside, but still give users enough privacy to take care of business. And placing the faucet for hand-washing outside the structure is meant to deter people from washing themselves or their clothes in the bathroom, Leonard says.

The Portland Loo project saw its first installation on Dec. 8, 2008 on Northwest 5th Avenue and Glisan Street. Leonard said it has been very well received by the neighborhood and has led to fewer people peeing on sidewalks. He hopes to install two more by the end of this year. “Personally, I think there's not enough places for people to relieve themselves,” he said.

The solar-powered structures cost $58,000 to build and $12,000 a year per loo to clean. Those who stopped by for the flush today praised the bathroom's cleanliness and location.

“If I were somebody needing to go to the bathroom at 2:00 am this would be the perfect place,” said Laura Mears, who added that the toilet would cater to both the homeless and late-night club-goers. “It gives people a place to go, literally.”

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