"I think I may have finally found my niche," says City Commissioner Randy Leonard. "I'm sure my supporters and detractors would agree."
There's a documentary about the Portland loo, here, but long story short, Leonard designed and built this one in Old Town last year at a cost of $150,000. A water bureau staffer is now marketing the design, which Leonard has applied for a patent on, to other cities—taking brochures, for example, to the Northwest Parks and Recreation Association show in Tacoma, Washington last week.
Leonard is hoping to order 10 more of the loos from SE Portland-based Lynch Metal Fabrication, soon. They are set to cost $56,919 each, but if Leonard can order 10 or more, then the cost goes down by $2,500 per unit. "We, here at the City of Portland, have enough to place an order for five or six of them," says Leonard. "So I'm hoping we can sell at least four to other jurisdictions."
Leonard's staffers have had inquiries from as far-afield as Australia, asking about the loos, which are solar-powered, and feature visibility for the feet and top of the body, to discourage crime—particularly injection of drugs. Leonard says he wants to sell the loos for $99,000 apiece, plus shipping, using the profits from the sale of the loos to support the ongoing cleaning and maintenance of Portland's loo network, as well as providing jobs at the Lynch Metal factory here in town.
"You of all people will understand the theory behind the design," said Leonard, referring to this writer's European heritage. "Here in the United States we have this puritan attitude to going to the bathroom, so we don't want anybody to see us doing it, and so we build these fortresses for people. But unfortunately those encourage the wrong kind of activity. Whereas in the United Kingdom and France and all over Europe these kinds of bathrooms are very common."
I so want this idea to succeed. You know anybody whose town is full of people experiencing homelessness, but with nowhere to pee? Or poop? Have them get in touch with Leonard's chief of staff, Ty Kovatch, to talk more about the Portland loo.