Story Corps
Vandal resistant restroom also has an exterior diaper-changing station
photo credit: (Credit: Marc Albert/KRCB)
There are no skylights, no heated seat or bidet. Nevertheless, Santa Rosa officials remain confident the city's new expensive public toilet will pay off. 
Plopped on Santa Rosa Avenue near the city's transit mall, the metal kiosk has some post-modern flair. Inside, it's pure utilitarian. Big enough to maneuver a wheelchair, with little else beyond a solitary, metal toilet.
But, it has it's benefits according to Santa Rosa Assistant City Manager Jason Nutt. "It's quite a bit easier to clean with very few surfaces. They can be very easily wiped down by hand or with a power cleaner," he said. 
Behold, the Portland Loo, designed by the public works department of the Oregon city. It's supposed to be close to indestructible and resistant to vandalism. And features like louvered side panels limit privacy, aimed at discouraging drug use and prostitution. 
The toilet ended up costing a quarter million dollars--quite a bit over estimates, as officials added elements required under the city's building code. 
More than a week after opening, the jury is still out. Nutt said the city will be watching, and comparing costs against regular public restrooms. "It's really way too early to be able to crystal ball that type of issue. The facility itself with the stainless steel bowl, with the stainless steel sink, it's harder for vandalism to occur in that instance, so we feel fairly confident that they'll be able to last over the course of time."
There was no line at the Loo on a recent Tuesday, when French backpacker Clementine Zazoun of Brittany made use of it. To her, it's definitely an asset.
"I travel a lot. In some places it's so hard. You walk all day, restaurants won't allow you in and yeah, it's a really good thing."
Finding public restrooms can be a challenge, she said, and sometimes you may not like what you find. "Some cities yes, some are clean, some are not. In Paris they are very gross. Yeah, Paris is very gross."
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