Time and again I’ve read in the Mirror how the City of Santa Monica pats itself on its shoulder about its streetscape improvements in progress. Parimal M. Rohit, a Mirror Contributor, wrote in the Mirrors in July 29-Aug. 4, 2011: “…enhance the streetscape environment to create an inviting pedestrian experience… seeking to improve the City’s aesthetic appeal.” I wonder when the members of the city council ever took a walk down 11th Street between Colorado Avenue and Olympic Boulevard. If the council ever had, it would have been a “pedestrian experience” they never forget.
When I got out of my car on the Salvation Army parking lot bordering Olympic Boulevard the other day, the smell of urine overwhelmed me and grew worse as I approached the store’s entrance. Due to the hot summer weather, the front door was left open. The smell inside the store was as sickening as it was outside.
Apparently, the pungent, air-filled stench was coming from two outhouses the City has permanently placed on the sidewalk of 11th Street, one in front of Bourget Bros., the other at the north wall of the Salvation Army building, for the convenience of day workers offering their services to Bourget Bros.’s customers. While supplying toilets for the human need of decreasing osmotic pressures during the digestion process is a noble gesture, but what noble gesture is it for the constant stream of Salvation Army customers frequenting the store Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the Salvation Army employees having to inhale the stench coming from the outhouses day-in and day-out? (And please do not stay around when Gump does its pickup of the filled containers — you will never go the Salvation Army or Bourget Bros. again.)
If Bourget Bros.’s customers benefit by the day workers, Bourget Bros. should allow the day workers to use their bathrooms inside their building. I don’t think that it is the City’s responsibility to supply toilets on sidewalks for people in need of one. Using a bathroom is a private affair. No one should relieve himself in front of other people and expose them to such stinky smell.
Rather than upgrading the “pedestrian experience” elsewhere in the City and “achieve an active social environment,” can we rid ourselves of the portable outhouses and create a healthy environment for the citizens of our City, which considers itself sustainable, green and superior in its environmental programs to all other cities in Southern California?
The City has created countless organizations and programs, honors its members with awards for their “significant achievements” in the areas of sustainable development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the natural environment. Yet, it allows an entire neighborhood (on and around 11th Street) to be used as a public bathroom.
Unless this situation is immediately remedied, all I can say is that the City has utterly failed in fostering a healthy pedestrian experience, i.e., an aesthetic culture the citizens of this City rightfully deserve. A culture of sustainability in cities, colleges, and businesses.