It was over two years ago on March 28, 2018, that the Albuquerque Journal reported on its front page that City Councilor Issac Benton used $20,000 of his City Council $1 million in “set-aside” money to purchase at auction what he hopes could be a solution to a burgeoning public bathroom shortage in Albuquerque.
Benton had the city purchase a slightly used “Portland Loo” which is a one-stall, stainless steel, stand-alone restroom that sells for around $100,000 new. At the time, Benton claimed the steel toilet is “almost indestructible.”
On February 5, 2016, it was reported that an identical “Portland Loo” was yanked out of the ground in San Diego because it was a magnet for crime and it was one of the more notorious financial boondoggles in San Diego history.
In addition to a 130 percent increase in police calls to the area around the restroom, it was reported maintenance and repair costs were more than double initial estimates. The steel toilet stall, which operated for 13 months at 14th and L streets in San Diego, was moved to the San Diego storage yard and city officials said there were no plans to re-install it anywhere.
YOU CAN FINALLY GO IN THE PORTLAND LOO
On August 4, 2020, the City of Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development, Parks and Recreation Department, and District 2 City Councilor Isaac Benton announced the “Old Town Loo” has been installed. The placement of the loo allowed the DMD Parking Division to remove an old parking booth that was no longer being used and to widen the entrance into the parking lot. This has improved access for wider vehicles such as RVs and provides them with additional parking options while visiting Old Town.
The City of Albuquerque says the Parks and Recreation Department will maintain the unit which has been installed in the Old Town City parking lot at San Felipe Street and Central Avenue. The one-stall public restroom is made with heavy-gauge steel wall panels and has graffiti-proof coating.
Councilor Benton had this to say:
“I’m very pleased with the Portland Loo, which we were able to acquire for a very affordable cost using District 2 set-a-side funds, will now be in operation in Old Town. Thanks to DMD and to the Historic Old Town Property Owners Association for their advocacy”.
Dave Simon, director of Parks and Recreation, had this to say:
“Old Town is one of Albuquerque’s crown jewels, and we want visitors to have clean and accessible restrooms. … The Old Town Loo is a great addition to the existing facilities.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
This is the very first time that I know of that City Councilor Isaac Benton has shown any real concern about anything in his city council district. It is likely what will happen is that the Portland Loo will be a venue for illicit drug use or for that matter prostitution, which is what has happened in Portland.
When you wait long enough on someone, they finally give a crap.