Portable toilet stays for downtown Ashland homeless

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ASHLAND, Ore -- A portable toilet that was installed last year on a trial basis to help homeless people will remain downtown indefinitely.

Ashland city councilors voted earlier this week to keep the portable toilet in place. It's near the Ashland Community Development Department building, not far from Lithia Park.

With Ashland's public rest rooms closing as early as 4 p.m., homeless people had few bathroom options at night, resulting in public urination and defecation.

Last year, councilors approved a one-year trial period for the downtown portable toilet.

Since then, the toilet has experienced moderate use and some episodes of vandalism, including graffiti, burn marks and a key broken off in a toilet paper holder.

The annual cost for the toilet is about $1,800, according to the city. That's less than the estimated $8,000 cost of leaving a public rest room open all night and paying for added custodial work and vandalism repairs.

Keeping a public rest room open at night also could endanger innocent users because someone with criminal intentions could lurk inside. There's nowhere to hide inside a portable toilet, said Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson.