Home USA News Bellingham is adding the first of three planned public restrooms downtown

Bellingham is adding the first of three planned public restrooms downtown

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The Portland Loo was installed on Monday, February 26, 2024, at Waypoint Park in downtown Bellingham, Washington.  This is the first of three planned public toilets in the city centre.

The Portland Loo was installed on Monday, February 26, 2024, at Waypoint Park in downtown Bellingham, Washington. This is the first of three planned public toilets in the city centre.

The Bellingham Herald

A Portland Loo was installed recently near the iconic Acid Ball and Granary Building on the edge of downtown Bellingham, part of an effort to add restroom space for the public.

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It’s one of three such public toilets that are planned near downtown, said Nicole Oliver, director of the Parks and Recreation Department. Consideration for plumbing and electrical connections is being studied before the other locations are chosen, she said.

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Oliver told The Bellingham Herald that the new restroom should be open for public use in March. It will be open during regular park hours — approximately dawn to dusk daily.

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“I think this will be a good spot for it,” Oliver said in a phone call with The Bellingham Herald.

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A Portland Loo is a gender-neutral stainless steel enclosure that holds a single toilet and has enough space inside for a wheelchair or a stroller. It has a locking door and a washbasin outside.

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The Portland Loo was developed by the city of Portland, Oregon as a way to install public restrooms that were easy to maintain and deter crime.
The Portland Loo was developed by the city of Portland, Oregon as a way to install public restrooms that were easy to maintain and deter crime. City of Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of The Bellingham Herald

They cost between $185,000 and $200,000 plus installation, according to previous Herald reporting.

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Portland Loos are made by a private company but were designed and installed by the city of Portland, where they were featured in the TV show “Portlandia” and have become a tourist attraction, according to the Portland Tribune.

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Their tough construction and graffiti-proof coating are a selling point for urban centers, and they’ve become popular in cities along the West Coast.

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“They’re really built to withstand all kinds of abuse,” Oliver said.

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Bellingham officials and business representatives have been calling for more restrooms downtown for several years. The lack of public facilities is a deterrent to tourists and other visitors, the Downtown Bellingham Partnership’s Jenny Hagemann told The Herald in a February 2023 interview.

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Only a few public restrooms are available downtown — at the bus station, library, Depot Market Square and in the Commercial Street parking garage.

Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with high housing costs for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he is also a volunteer firefighter with the South Whatcom Fire Department.

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