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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

No Relief for Homeless in Downtown L.A.

October 29, 2003

Re "Ordinance Bans Public Urination," Oct. 25: It is a disgrace that the L.A. City Council has criminalized a basic bodily function that every human must perform several times daily. I have worked on skid row for the last 15 years and have shoveled my share of human excrement off the sidewalk.

My community (the L.A. Catholic Worker) and others fought for eight years to get portable toilets placed on the streets of skid row, which greatly alleviated the situation. Since Councilwoman Jan Perry came into office, she and the Central City East Assn. have tried to have the toilets removed without providing an alternative place for people to relieve themselves.

What are people supposed to do? Wouldn't it make more sense to provide decent toilet facilities that all downtown pedestrians (homeless and otherwise) can use rather than spending thousands of dollars locking people up in jail for performing a necessary bodily function? Let us call for a repeal of this mean-spirited law and, meanwhile, hope that our City Council members remember a time when they needed to relieve themselves with nowhere to go. Then maybe they will have a little more compassion.

Donald Nollar

Los Angeles

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Will our magnificent new monument to culture and egalitarian values (the Walt Disney Concert Hall) make its toilets available to its homeless neighbors?

Xenia and Dan Chasman

Laguna Woods

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