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Community Digest

Long Beach : Program of Portable Toilets for the Homeless Extended

November 29, 1990

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend a pilot program for the operation of portable toilets for the homeless, even though most of the toilets no longer exist.

Twelve of the 16 toilets originally placed in Long Beach have been burned, and the remaining four have been vandalized.

Councilman Clarence Smith said the homeless themselves destroyed the units because they want more help than portable toilets. "They were sending a direct message. We're going to burn these down until we get what we want," Smith said.

Councilman Evan Anderson Braude predicted that there will be further problems with the units, located at 14th and Locust, and 5th and Golden streets, unless the city builds a multi-service center for the homeless. The center would offer bathing and toilet facilities as well as counseling. The proposal has been in a council committee for several months.

The city has spent about $10,000 on the toilets in the first six months of the pilot program. City officials estimate that it will cost about $495.60 a month to keep each of the four remaining units cleaned and operating.

Councilman Ray Grabinski questioned the wisdom of spending money on "stainless steel boxes" when what the city really needs, he said, is to provide its citizens with the "basic necessities," permanent restrooms in parks.

However, Councilman Wallace Edgerton said such facilities would become "living cesspools" if they are not cleaned and policed on a regular basis.

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