After the national attention we received last month following the City of Kalamazoo's move to decriminalize public urination and defecation, the city is continuing to address its citizens concerns over lack of public restrooms in the downtown area.
National news sites like Fox News and the New York Post wrote about how downtown Kalamazoo business owners and residents alike were up in arms over changes to the city's code-- but it's not what you think it is!
Decriminalized ≠ Legal
In response to outcries from concerned citizens, the City of Kalamazoo stated:
We can't believe we have to say this, but IT IS STILL ILLEGAL to poop and pee in public in Kalamazoo. Contrary to some reports, the City Commission did not legalize this. The City lowered the penalty by making it a municipal civil infraction - which means it is illegal & subject to a ticket and fine - but it will no longer be a part of someone's permanent criminal record. This is part of an effort to decrease the long-term punitive effects of some offenses.
The move to make these offenses a civil infraction stems from a much larger issue in Kalamazoo, the homeless and unhoused population. That's partly why adding more public restrooms to the downtown area would be such a game changer for our city.
Lack of Loos
Lack of public restrooms has long been an issue for shoppers and visitors in downtown Kalamazoo. In 2020 the city installed a Portland Loo-style public restroom that is available to use 24 hours a day. The sleek and unobtrusive design makes it a perfect solution for public spaces.
Now the City of Kalamazoo is eyeing new locations for four more public restrooms in the downtown area, with the locations to be finalized within the next month. Kalamazoo Now reports the city is also taking suggestions for desired features for these new public restrooms, like family-sized restrooms and self-cleaning models. Temporary porta-potties are reportedly not being considered as a solution.
The downtown Kalamazoo area has faced many challenges over the last decade and has struggled to bring in visitors and shoppers but hopefully the new bike lanes, walkability study, and new restrooms are all a step in the right direction.
Is there anything else you'd like to see come to downtown Kalamazoo?