The city of Albany is seeking public input on how to regulate portable toilets. It comes after a downtown church asked the Albany City Council to extend a permit for its outdoor toilet, which is meant to serve the unhoused population. The Democrat-Herald reports that Albany First Christian Church considers providing the toilet to be a part of its “solemn duty” and that volunteers regularly clean and maintain it.
City officials said a long-term portable toilet is technically not allowed under city code, which permits them only for temporary use such as special events or at construction sites. Council members voted to renew the permit for now, but directed staff to come up with long-term policy options.
Albany’s public works director, Chris Bailey, said while the city understands the need for public restrooms, portable toilets are frequently the target of vandalism.
“They can also become public nuisances in terms of the odor,” she said. “If they’re not maintained properly, it can become a burden on nearby property owners and residents.”
The city is conducting a survey which asks whether portable toilets should be allowed on private property for public use, and if so, for how long. The survey is available through May 11.
"As with everything, it's more complicated than it appears on the surface," said Bailey. "We look forward to more input if people have it."
At a March 23 City Council meeting, city staff presented council members with a list of six restrooms in the downtown area that are available for public use, not counting the one maintained by First Christian Church.
None are available 24 hours a day, and just four are open seven days a week.