Business and property owners have traditionally opposed calls to install more public toilets on Skid Row, says Greg Spiegel, former homelessness policy director for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and who is now the Inner City Law Center’s director of strategic initiatives.
“[The opposition] is often people who have interests that conflict with people living on the street,” Spiegel said. “But denying access to services doesn’t make poop go away.”
Spiegel helped lead the 2017 audit of public toilets on Skid Row and write “No Place to Go,” an influential report that explored a host of factors contributing to the dire state of sanitation in the area — from the appearance, maintenance, safety and privacy of public restrooms, to wait times, wheelchair accessibility, availability of menstrual products and public signage advertising the locations and hours of toilets. The automated toilets and porta-potties on Skid Row have long had a reputation as magnets for such crimes as drug-dealing and prostitution. They are frequently vandalized, defaced and neglected. The doors on many toilet stalls don’t lock. Homeless residents say they are afraid of being robbed in them, or worse.