Last night I went for a walk and also to check out “Movies on the Nickel” @ the James Woods Community Center- afterwards, I checked up on the toilet just outside San Julian Park on 5th. Toilets are on the front burner again in Skid Row after the second (now) LA County Heath Report of 2013 just came out recommending the City of LA get more. Research from the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) and the newly formed CD14 Working Group for Skid Row documented that these toilets are often broken or jammed. If these neighborhood toilets are out of operation- this means that the people here have very few other options for using a public restroom, even less after dark- most restrooms in Skid Row which are within social service provider buildings require you to be signed up with one of their programs to use them- and so many on the streets are not in any program. Broken APTs (Automated Public Toilets) in Skid Row mean more human waste on the streets. Different toilet designs and opening up more access to toilets from the existing social service providers are some ideas on the table. The toilet @ 5th & San Julian said “OUT OF SERVICE” on the little digital display at around 10:30pm last night.
Today, I took a walk about the neighborhood and I peeped the toilet at Gladys Park on 6th. This toilet’s digital display had no words at all (see above pic). The thing was completely broken. A CBS/Decaux (private company that has a contract with the City of LA to maintain these things) worker in a company van was nearby, and when I asked what was wrong, he told me the computer “guts” had been stripped out of the thing, and that he had never seen this before. Hmmm.
Then I walked over to the APT on 5th and San Pedro St.- and as you can see from the pic above- this digital display was ALSO not working- the thing was also broken. There was a different CBS/Decaux worker over at this toilet and when I went over to ask him about the broken toilet- he told me the same story as the other worker- someone had ripped the computer guts out of the thing- and that he had never seen this before. Double hmmm now.
It seems very odd indeed that this would happen now, when it has never happened before. Especially since there is some fresh scrutiny to these toilets as the City needs to figure out how it will comply with the LA Count Heath Report. Who could have done this? Below is a printout that I got a hold of last year showing the stats on toilet flushes for all these APTs sprinkled throughout the City of LA. As you can see- the North Hollywood toilet had the most flushes followed by the Pershing Square APT- but, what many residents of Skid Row will tell you is that our APTs are so often broken or out of order that these numbers do not accurately reflect the true need here for more toilets.
Another thing I have recently learned…there are others in Skid Row looking very carefully at these monthly APT flush reports. Triple hmmmmm!