…The More They Stay The Same

Does it seem to you that the more things change, the more they stay the same?  A reader sent me a link to a story posted in Homeless world about the need for bathroom in Garberville in 2008.  Mary Anderson did the story originally for the Redwood Times.  Patti Rose is quoted as saying, “”Sometimes people are outraged that the homeless poop on the sidewalk, but where are they supposed to go to the bathroom? Could we get a public bathroom somewhere, a porta-potty? People complain that the homeless smell bad. Well, maybe we could get a public shower somewhere.”

We’ve tried at least 2 1/2 years without the porta potty.  We can see how well that worked.  Could we try a year with it and see if the homeless problem increases or if sanitation increases?  Seems like the most practical way to deal.  If it doesn’t work, remove it.  If it does, work to build a sturdy, easy to clean, permanent structure.  And, let me be bold here, I think one possibility is that we should put it in the public square so that tourists will use it, to0.

When things stay the same, the more we need to change…Let’s try something different and see if it works.


(As a side note though, even if you vehemently disagree with those who want there to be no public restrooms in Garberville, they have a right to their opinion.  Threatening to have poop-in’s on their doorstep is counterproductive. Remember they have been struggling with this issue up close for years.  Listen respectfully, they might seem less angry if they didn’t feel so defensive.  Think of your worst neighbor problem.  Imagine folk from other areas telling you to be more patient, to give something to the person who has made your life miserable–wouldn’t you think those people were nuts and didn’t understand the situation?  Wouldn’t you think you might have a better understanding of how to deal than folks who weren’t in the middle of it all? )


Photo from The Grouchy Chef restaurant by zoomar

  • Laytonville Rock


  • Ferndale went through all the same arguments before they put their public toilet up in the middle of town. Though they don’t have the same number of homeless that we do, it seems like it has worked out fine. Mendocino town has a public bathroom across from the business district on the cliffs.
    Someone needs to find out if the townpark folks abandoned their plans for an onsite public bathroom because of money, or because of fear.
    It would not take much incentive to have a houseless person clean the portapotty or bathroom.

  • Quote: “Sometimes people are outraged that the homeless poop on the sidewalk, but where are they supposed to go to the bathroom?”

    Do like they do here in Eureka, find a home for sale and move in.

  • Well said!

    I once ended up in Eureka in my work clothes and a hurt back and I needed a bathroom and NO businesses along the strip of Broadway I was on , would allow me to use theirs. This, more than anything else, has given my understanding of the problem: when you gotta go, you gotta go. I almost went in the alley and then I found a business person that took pity on me. BTW- the homeless that day were super nice and offered me back rubs. Everyone should try walking a day, or even an hour, in their shoes.

  • The Ferndale police routinely remove people living on the streets.

    My wife and I were having dinner at Curley’s (Now the V.I.) We looked out the window and we saw the typical street person hanging on the sidewalk. I was still chuckling about the guy when the waitress came to our table. I asked the waitress if the guy was there to keep us from getting homesick. She blanched somewhat and without even taking our order she disappeared into the kitchen, as she came back out to take our order, I noticed that a Ferndale police car drove up next to the guy, the policeman didn’t even get out of his car. He just motioned the guy to get in. The man got in and they disappeared around the corner.

    Upon questioning the waitress, she said that they take them east of the river and drop them off. She said that if they are not actively seeking a job, or a place to live, that they don’t belong in Ferndale.

    That was several years ago, I’m still trying to put it together in my head.

  • Good observation Kym. Why not try the porta potty? Nothing else seems to work. It’s worked elsewhere. Why not Garberville?

    It’s easy for me to see both sides of the situation. I was homeless for nearly two years after I got out of the Army in 1971. I was really messed up in the head at the time.

  • Well, I pretty much say ‘ditto’ on Kym’s, “The More They Stay the Same”. It would be good to try and see how it would work out and at least try something instead of nothing. And I also mirror Kim’s side note on trying to be respectful to others that have been dealing with this up close. It is so easy to toss out all kinds of words that can end up being counter productive in this situation. Let’s try and really go forward on this bathroom project.I am trying to stay focused on seeing the restroom go forward and not trying to deal with all the issues that get associated with this as that becomes to many issues and can seem too daunting. Just a restroom please!!! And it doesn’t have to be a “homeless” restroom issue”, it can be a restroom for everyone.

  • In Mexico, we frequently came across fastidiously clean and the best of well-maintained free public restrooms in the larger cities. They were far better than most found in the States.

    They’d have a volunteer attendant sitting outside keeping an eye on things; you could offer donations– usually loose change for him in the coffee can– if you felt so inclined. Every now and then, several times an hour or more, he’d clean the facilities making sure all was spiffy and up to snuff. That was the way to go for locals, business folks, and tourists: sitting down with complete confidence, freshening up (they had toiletries available or for sale), and offering a relatively good situation for all. It seemed to work very well without problems.

    Of course, we’re speaking to porta-potties here. And have you seen the luxurious porta-potty Taj Mahal number at SF’s Twin Peaks? That alone is worth the trip.


  • To note and as a humorous aside, the picture above is of The Grouchy Chef restaurant, owned and operated by Chef Masumoto in Mulkiteo, Washngton.

    Top notch food, reasonable prices, loyal customers, and lots of specific rules posted all over to follow… or risk being berated or tossed. The Chef himself is the only employee–365 days a year– and enforces the rules rigidly:

    You must have reservations. You must be on time. No lateness! If you’re early, no loitering.
    You must order quickly.
    All food ordered first and paid for in cash, up front.
    Money MUST be placed in the money tray– and NOT on the counter.
    No tipping allowed; the chef is a chef, not a waitress! In lieu of tipping, donations to cancer research are preferred.
    No sandals, dirty jeans, or ghetto attire allowed.
    No leaning back in the chairs. Chairs must be pushed back in when not used.
    No lipstick allowed (it ruins the cloth napkins; be prepared to be given a paper napkin instead).
    No silverware is allowed to touch the table.
    Do not change the silverware order.
    Tables seat 4 only and will NOT be changed or combined.
    NO photos! (zoomar obviously broke the rule here)
    No condiments, changes, or substitutions– the food is exactly as it’s supposed to be. Period.
    Starches are only available at dinner. Period.
    No large appetites.
    Sign yelling at customers: ‘No Cosco (sic) food at Grouchy Chef!’
    You must go to the bathroom to blow your nose.
    No loudness, no laughter, no toasting, etc.
    Don’t ask many questions or you’ll be asked to leave.

    This is only the partial list of rules and etiquette. No, I’m not making this up; and yes, follow the rules or Chef Masumoto will glare, have tantrums, ‘accidentally’ drop your food, throw your money back at you, boot you out, or chase you back to your car. Stories are legendary. Customers, scared and initimdated, clue one another in, love the place, enjoy the risks involved, and gasp at newbies’ mistakes.

    Explains the Grumpy Chef’s picture above more fully now, doesn’t it?

    …back to the porta-potty dilemma.

  • Garberville is not Ferndale or even Fortuna. Garberville is right on 101 and every hitcher on the road comes through here. I suspect the Chamber feels the port a potty will attract more travelers to Demulling Park. The scene that caused the fencing of the Park was certainly out of control and could happen again as the summer commences.
    This situation is not going to go away for a long time. The community needs to get together to look at ways to handle the travelers.
    A place for a restroom is essential for town hygiene. One possible spot might be the front of Ray’s parking lot, just behind the wall where traveling folks meet and greet. The problem with that idea is that it’s Jim Lamport’s parking space and Jim is essential to town sanity, so… I guess that won’t work. Of course, there is already a port a potty at the Renner Station, a not so short stroll north on Redwood Drive. I’m sure it gets plenty of use after office hours.
    What are other small communities doing? We always seem to think we can create our own solution but maybe it’s already out there, we need to look for a model.

  • Is it a public restroom we are talking about ? or one for the homeless ?
    There is going to be a difference as this issue goes on and in my opinion its placement.
    placing the porta potty, down in the vets park at the bottom, insured that only homeless and ones very comfortable around them could use it.
    I saw a posting about a woman who tried to “go” on wend. and could not use the porta potty because of dogs and men sleeping too close to the unit…..She was waiting for the bus.

    some locals are not nervous about-because of-around the homeless or drifters BUT some-many-a lot are. If a restroom of any kind is placed in town we all need to respect the fact that it will be high maintenance and need almost constant care.
    from the outside looking in, this issue may seem pretty simple…. and even to those local readers that don’t live in town,,,,you really don’t know what its like to deal with some of these homeless on a daily basis,, BUT for those of us right here every day, with our kids,,,,it seems to me that it gets a bit more complicated………. Did anyone ever know that there are family s living down behind ACE (right by Vets Park) and that several of the homeless men were trying to sell the kids pot and speed ?? ( among other things ) in my opinion this issue,,,needs a conversation, a plan, a respectful, thoughtful, debate.

    on another thought, are there any camp grounds being closed, that might be able to be rented by local groups, for the homeless ?? I have no idea what would be involved in that,,,,,a lot of “ifs” I’m sure but it’s just a thought I had,,,,,,,

  • Thank’s Rebecca for joining in the conversation! It is a complicated one as there seems to be an overlap of what type of restroom we are talking about. I am hoping for a permanent restroom in a more centralized location that can be used by everyone and that gets regular cleaning. But in the meantime, I think the porta-potty should be reinstalled for the sake of sanitation and basic human needs.
    I did hear in one of the post about a family that was troubled by activity concerning their children and some adults trying to offer?sell the kids drugs (not good)..I’m really hoping these issues can find solutions and having discussion is part of the process.
    In the meantime I’ll be sarcastic and suggest that maybe the porta -potty can be next to the sewage treatment plant.

  • Ben and Ernie have shown that I was wrong to compare the Ferndale experience with the Garberville situation.
    A downtown public restroom and porta-potties at either end of town would be my preference.

  • Sigh. All homeless people have a great challenge in trying to keep themselves presentable. Some give up on it entirely. Some are mentally ill and/or intoxicated. So yes, a portapotty down at Demulling Grove, surrounded by street people, will likely be an uninviting spot for others to use.
    When the Town Square opened, some individuals offered to fund and maintain a portapotty at that location, but the directors declined. They said it would be too ugly, and perhaps unstated was that it would exacerbate the problem they were already having, trying to keep street people from dominating the Square. They do intend, I hear, to put in a regular restroom someday.
    Perhaps if the Grove is reopened and maintained, with a portapotty, Square officials will be more receptive to the notion of a temporary portapotty there as well. (Separate but equal?)

  • Here’s another idea floating around town:
    How about turning the soon-to-be-abandoned Sheriff’s substation into a homeless service center?
    Ummmm, there might be a few details that would have to be worked out, and I imagine the G’ville VFD and the neighbors will want to weigh in.
    Does anyone besides me remember the meetings that occurred some years back around the notion of turning Dean Creek Resort into a homeless camp? That was back when Sam Gabriel was trying hard to sell it so he could leave the area. It was funny seeing him trying to sell a concept he’d have been the first to despise had it been a neighboring property rather than his own that was under consideration.

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