When you have to go, you have to go. But in New York City, the question is often: Where? The five districts have among the fewest public bathrooms per. inhabitant of any major city in the United States.
Now, some city council members have introduced legislation that will require the Adams administration to identify at least one new toilet seat per day. zip code within the next year.
“Toilet equity is not getting the attention it deserves, but it’s a critical human rights issue,” Brooklyn Councilwoman Rita Joseph, who co-sponsored the bill, wrote in a tweet.
The bill calls on the Department of Transportation and the Department of Parks and Recreation to consider input from the public and community boards in order to identify the new pots.
The pandemic highlighted the emergency in the bathroom. With so many restaurants and shops closed, New Yorkers relied even more on public restrooms, which are hard to find and often in deep decay.
According to a 2019 report from former New York City inspector Scott Stringer, there are only 16 “comfort stations” in parks per year. 100,000 inhabitants. Meanwhile, toilets located in subway stations that closed during the pandemic remain closed.
Crain’s New York Business Reporter Aaron Elstein has written extensively on the subject. In an interview with Gothamist in March, he traced the problem back to the financial crisis of the 1970s, when the city closed bathrooms to save money. “When the city hit the rocks financially, the city’s bathrooms really went to the toilet, and no one has been able to solve the problem ever since,” Elstein told Gothamist.
Elstein said one challenge is the many levels of bureaucracy involved in approving a new bathroom. Some business and neighborhood groups have also been resilient, citing concerns about the toilets attracting homeless people or drug users.
If the bill is passed, agencies must recommend the new sites by June 2023.