Property Grunt

Friday, July 08, 2005

Pissed off

The Grunt was quite surprised by the reaction he recieved with his letter to Whole Foods. Not only did he get press in Curbed but also his words hit the esteemed gossip blog Gawker. The Grunt was humbled by the exposure and realized that he had a hit nerve of sorts and decided to further explore the issue of urinary rights particulary with the concept of pay toilets.

Grunt's belief was that this whole issue of women lining up at their own restrooms and annexing men's room could be solved simply with the use of pay toilets. During holidays and or events where foot traffic increased tenfold in certain areas of the city, pay toilet would be installed in these areas allowing them to be accessible for women.

Now like any responsible broker, the Grunt did his due diligence on this subject and found out some interesting facts.

The British euphemism for uriniation, to spend a penny, evolved from the practice of charging for a public toilet.

According to the Post Gazette, back in 2003 Pittsburgh installed a pay toilet which cost $250,000 and yet cost a quarter to operate. That's an insane yield. However the Grunt had a solution which was to pass the cost of the toilets to the consumers by charging for 5 bucks a pop. Yes. Its unfair but would you rather pay through your taxes?

However the Grunt's plan of urinary liberation for the opposite sex hit a bit of a snag. According to the Gotham Gazette in 1975 pay toilets were outlawed in New York State because, well those facilities discriminated against women. However in 1993 NYC won an exemption thanks to the homeless who brought a class action lawsuit stating that the current rest facilities were inadequate for their needs and discriminated against them.

It seemed that pay toilets were on their way to liberate the bladders of its residents when it was stopped dead in its tracks once again accused of discrimination since not all of the toilets that were to be installed were handicapped accessible. Communities also banded against pay toilets due to their concerns that would not be well maintained and serve as a beacon for child molesters and other flotsam of society.

Giuliani even threw his hand into the pay toilet wars and one point was underway to sign an exclusive deal which detailed the following.

The plan was to contract for 20 years with a company that would provide all the "street furniture," including 430 newsstands and 3,300 bus shelters along with 30 toilets. The company would sell advertising on all of the furniture (not just the toilets), in order to help subsidize toilet creation, installation and maintenance.

Giuliani backed out in 1998 because it reeked of a monopoly and wouldn't allow that. Even a borough wide plan where 5 contracts would be awarded for each borough was nixed becasue the advertising model would not work for all boroughs since residential areas like Queens could not be self supporting.

All hope is not lost. San Francisco has a very succesful street toilet program.

24 available toilets average 80 uses per day, offering 20 minutes of toilet time for 25 cents (20 minutes was recommended by the mayor's task force for the handicapped.) The coin revenue does not begin to pay for the $200,000 cost of the toilet, or for its daily maintenance. To cover those costs, the company sells advertising on cylindrical kiosks erected in high traffic areas.

However it looks like that any chances of relief for women are far and few. The Grunt can only provide this link to the bathroom diaries. This is a fantastic website of all the public bathrooms in New York City so it should help all the women out there who are need of urinary relief.