Garberville Public Restroom Becoming a Reality


Garberville public restroom

Dennis Bourassa, restroom co-builder and Town Square Board Member, is operating the excavator. Also shown are: GRPRWG members (from closest to farthest in photo) Lenny Anderson, Jim Truitt and Dave Ordonez. Jim is the designer/builder member of GRPRWG. [Photo from the Garberville Redway Public Restroom Working Group]

Work has begun on the public bathroom at the Garberville Town Square where the Farmer’s Market is held each week. Local builders Jim Truitt of the Garberville Redway Public Restroom Working Group (GRPRWG) and Dennis Bourassa of the Garberville Town Square Board have both been working on the project. The concrete will probably be poured this week, and Bourassa says he expects the foundation to be finished by Christmas. And Truitt thinks the bathroom unit will be finished and installed by the end of February if all goes well. Everyone involved feels pleased that the permits are secured, ground has been broken, and work has finally begun.

Some History

A public restroom in Southern Humboldt has been in the process for some time. The Garberville Redway Public Restroom Working Group started work on the matter six years ago. That was after local homeless advocate, Debra Carey, tried to give the homeless community a porta-potty at the Veterans Park for her own birthday. It was quickly removed by the County.

This left those without homes also without a bathroom. Local businesses often find human feces when they arrive to open shop for the day. It is so common that one business owner leaves cardboard around for people to use so cleanup is easier. That’s still not the hygiene standard of the modern world.

Bourassa says that public restrooms have an underestimated value in community life. When he lived in Spain, Bourassa said that the law mandated public businesses like restaurants and markets allow everyone to use the restroom. Other people have commented that most tourist destinations in the United States have public restrooms supported by the areas’ Chambers of Commerce to make them comfortable destinations.

Challenging Times

However, in recent decades, homelessness has exploded in numbers and solutions have not come forward. Problematic use and misuse of bathrooms in the public sphere has resulted in even taxpayer-funded buildings like Garberville’s Department of Health and Human Services closing their bathrooms to people not currently conducting business there.

Solving Problems with Planning

Bob Froelich of the GRPRWG board says the group has done a lot of homework toward designing this bathroom. They provided a porta-potty for a couple of years on the very north end of Redway to see how it would be received. Froelich says they had virtually no problems. Residents in a nearby neighborhood found they had fewer problems with trespassing in those years. And Froelich said the porta-potty wasn’t vandalized and was used regularly.

Froelich also says GRPRWG has researched problems towns and cities commonly have with public restrooms. The problems, he said, include vandalism, being used for a safe sleeping space, and being used for bathing and laundry needs.

The bathroom being installed at the Garberville Town Square is modeled on the Portland Loo which the people of Portland, Oregon had designed to solve the city’s public restroom needs. Portland Loos incorporate a supply closet and solar panels mounted on top of their units while keeping vandalism and non-bathroom uses to a minimum with its design features.

Some of the Details

Southern Humboldt’s restroom will be a stainless steel bathroom stall for long life and easy maintenance. Trash and handwashing will be outside the unit to prevent vandalism and to prevent the sink being used for bathing and laundry needs. The handwashing will be a spout in the exterior wall of the unit operated on a very short timer. The local version will not have solar panels at this time. It will be using conventional utilities. And it will have a wood frame and stucco supply closet that will be shared between the bathroom and the town square for tools and supplies.

Sleeping in the bathroom will be discouraged by open, screened slats on the sides below the knee line. The design of the slats, angling down toward the inside, means that a person laying on the floor will be easily visible from the outside, but no one can see the user of the commode. And the user will maintain his or her sense of privacy because the user cannot see out from above. The slats also create a breezier, less sheltered environment.

The stainless steel bathroom is currently being fabricated at Work Horse Welding of Miranda for less than a quarter of the price of the Loo according to Jim Truitt. Nonetheless, this is a costly investment into the positive atmosphere of the community. Fabrication and materials will be about $25,000. Permitting and engineering were about $10,000. There were design costs with the architect, Kash Boodjeh, who nonetheless donated a lot of his time to the project. Getting a water and sewer connection was less costly than it could have been because GRPRWG paid their connection fee while it was still $1,200 and it has jumped to $8,000 since then.

Community Support Making It Happen

Jim Truitt says the project was jump-started by Rotary who gave a donation of $4,000 “to get us off the ground.” Since then GRPRWG has received donations and offers of support from many business and private citizens. GRPRWG will soon be writing a letter to thank everyone who has already helped. And they are reaching out to the rest of the community as they work to raise enough to finish the project and to have $8,000 on hand for cleaning, maintenance, and supplies for the first year of operation.

The public bathroom is a coordinated project between GRPRWG and the Town Square with a formal MOU that leaves GRPRWG responsible for its maintenance for two years according to Froelich.

GRPRWG has a facebook page so you can see more detail.

Interested people can donate funds in support of finishing the public bathroom in Southern Humboldt.  Here is a link to their GoFundMe page and an account number at CCUSH. (Donate to “WISH” donation account-51/ Public Restroom Group).



  • Liberal hypocrisy

    It’s awesome to see progress on the Town Square unfortunately it’s just going to be another place for the homeless houseless dirtbags to trash

    • Its progress, but it maybe like other places, just a place to get high. and who will steam it out. YOU WILL NEED STEAM TO GET IT CLEAN.

    • how come Fernanda doesn’t have any of these problems. because they wont put up with it. run these guys out of town if they get out of line.

  • Modeled after public bathrooms in Portland, you mean the bathrooms where they can’t even have doors on the individual stalls so people maybe won’t shoot heroin in them? 👏

  • Garberville is more responsive to peoples needs than Arcata.
    More people are homeless, fires and medical issues add to the
    problem. It doesn’t take much to get put on the street these days.
    Have a heart and embrace what could be your fate.

    • Yet for 99.999… percent it is not their fate.

      Garberville might have a chance of it working due to its low population density. It will be interesting to see what their experience is.

    • [edit] if it was my fate, I wouldn’t be wasting time on cold winters,pipe dreams, and needle nights. I’d have left to warmer climates long ago…

  • They should have about 10 needle deposits right next to it ,or it will be filled with needles in no time .

  • Brought to you by “the dookie brothers”

  • Great, a bum magnet.

    • Well, they go too. And attracking that waste to one place would be a better choice if the intended user actually bothers to use it.

  • >”They should have about 10 needle deposits right next to it ,or it will be filled with needles in no time .”

    Yup. Need that in Eureka/Arcata/Fortuna too.

  • Hey, up north in Oregon, and Crescent City, there are many ‘public bathrooms’ like 5 in town in crescent city. Gville is really SO behind on the times. There are homeless up here too. Lots. But mostly the bathrooms are very clean and well maintained. I really do NOT understand why people are sooo terrified of a public restroom. Don’t let junkies roost in the bathrooms! It takes a whole community, and most other communities here in the north have many public bathrooms that are very clean. If gville is going to attract the right kind of tourists it’s is going to need public bathrooms, or your town will smell like poopoo!!

    • You make some good points………..What really Need is a regular foot patrol officer.
      In the old days , the cops knew who was who,and who were ” problematic ”
      Now they seem to just go after people who (they think) can afford to pay !

    • Agreed

    • There are about 7.5 billion humans on the planet. How many bathrooms are there?
      Many thousands of travelers and tourists come to Southern Humboldt County
      each year to work or see the redwoods. How many public restrooms are there
      on The Avenue of Giants, for instance? That is an easy question to answer. Just count
      the number of large redwoods along the highway. Everyone seems to mistake them
      for crappers.

  • It should definitely have a stainless steel sharps container on the outside to prevent tweaks from ripping it open and re-using the needles. And they may as well install a USB port so they can charge phones. And maybe an outlet and stainless mirror so they can shave or blow dry their hair. Jk.

  • In Southern California they have to use bleach to clean clean sidewalks Because of the people’s droppings. The idea for public Restrooms is great; how well it will work is yet to be determined. What type of fee will be charged, will local stores have some kind of tokens to give out, while others will need Quarters?
    Free Bathrooms for the homeless DID NOT WORK IN SAN FRANCISCO
    Overall I think this idea will Not WORK Out, and I will not support this.

  • The town square board of directors have failed and continue to fail our community regarding ensuring that our Town Square be a safe and healthy place for community members to go and enjoy our town and square. They have basically thrown up their hands and admitted that they can’t monitor the square to properly ensure a “safe” space free of violence and hard drug use.
    I and some of my other family members have been threatened with sexual violence on more than one occasion by just walking by there. This is NOT a safe space ,esp. for women and children. This has been an ongoing problem at the square for several years now, where on any given day, there are between 5-15 men congregating. Many doing hard drugs and drinking and then becoming violent, and also discarding their dirty needles .

    The bathroom idea is noble, but unless the ongoing problems at the square are properly dealt with and extinguished , the bathroom is going to only make things worse there.
    What are Jim Truitt and Dennis Bourassa and Peg Anderson going to do to ensure a safe space again for our square ? Yeah, that’s what I thought…….nothing, just more enabling.

    • Same ol same ol…fuckn shithole we live in. Only getting one doing anything about it..redway, garb, just look like eutweeka.. eutweek looks just like the SOMA or Tenderloin..wake up loosers..oops I mean neighbors. Our community is gone.

  • bout time gville got its shit together

  • A public Shooting gallery. Disgusting. They should have a dispenser for narcan and needle exchange. WTF. Why are we enabling these dope fiends.

  • [edit]

    Now, they’ve been talking about a “public toilet” for at least 5 years, and in my opinion, there will be an orange plastic fence around it very quickly, if the DO get it finished in the next few months.

    Have you seen what the folks who live out in public do to the spaces they inhabit? Let’s see, they throw trash everywhere, they do drugs, they refuse to leave, and they collect stuff. And do drugs. And sometimes kill each other.

    I predict:

    1) the toilet will be trashed
    2) the toilet will be used for doing drugs
    3) someone will be living in the toilet
    4) murder will occur in the toilet
    5) other antisocial stuff will happen, like poop on the floor, sex worker activity in the toilet etc

    Since nothing good ever happens in Garberville after dark, the toilet will probably not last through it’s expected life span, and probably will have to be closed and/or demolished.

    It was a good idea, but it was not proposed to be built in a good place. I certainly hope no tourists ever try to use it, and if I was Rio Anderson, I would not be too happy about the advent of this lovely addition to the town square, across from his fine store/apartment building, which as I recall, was the last new thing built in [edit], back in 2012…

  • If it ends up being used like the one in Willow Creek, you will have homeless fighting over who gets to sleep in it. And have all their trash left all around it. For some reason, many don’t understand that poop goes in the toilet and garbage goes in the trash can, not on the walls, not on the floor….

  • I hope this New bathroom brings more wonderful home free to our restrooms free lunch everyday .And all you can steal ,jails with rubber bars and cops with wooden legs.

  • Our approach to drug addiction is working just fine.

  • WAKE UP EVERYONE!!!!! Sal Alinsky, the idol of Hillary Clinton, pushed socialism to the ignorant masses. After 50 years, the endowment gifting of federal monies is rampant. This community toilet is the pure CRAP result of Alinski’s mandates-DEMAND DEMAND DEMAND and the politicians will GIVE YOU what you want to get your vote. These bums vagrants homeless losers are demanding a toilet and YOU give it to them. What’s their next demand?? Bed and breakfast?take over a motel for housing? Do you think the tourists are coming to Garbieville because a toilet’s there? What a -ucking joke!!!!!
    Garbieville is the loser and will remain so as long as anyone allows the bums to suck off the system and DEMAND rights!! They do nothing for society.They give back nothing to the community. They are shitting parasites and you caved into them!! Shame shame on you all!!

    • Thx mateel…for growing this mess like we grow pot for over a decade! We make everything bigger here. Especially our problems…

    • Crimes topper, The world may not owe them a living, but we have a profound social crisis on our hands.

      Factors to consider:
      1. Homelessness spiked after 2008 nationwide.
      2. The situation is so severe the UN sent someone last month to look at conditions for the homeless in the United States.
      3. The lack of government response in the richest nation in the world shocked him. Not even campgrounds are provided. Nor are adequate bathrooms.
      4. Unmanaged feces causes disease for everyone.
      5. The problem is national but most strongly felt where the weather is moderate.
      6. The problem is national because it is born of a failing economy.
      7. Jails are more expensive than social support funding. And it appears social supports are more effective at preventing crime and negative behavior.

  • Used to be that many of the local businesses made their restrooms available to the public. Then along came this attorney from Eureka who threatened to sue or close down any business that was allowing public use if their restrooms were not brought up to state standards for the disabled. Faced with what for some businesses meant major structural improvements many made their facilities employee only. A public restroom has been needed for years. It will probably require an attendant but we need to see how it shakes out before condemning it and the helpful folks who are installing it. The chamber or the merchants guild should get the community involved. As it is the whole town is a toilet if we don’t give a s..t.

    • Thank you, Kirby, for a realistic overview. A public restroom in Garberville is essential for the town. Let’s see how it works out.

  • Really Going To sink

    Little do they know the base of the bathroom is pure mud and clay that building is going to sink or lean .They were supposed to remove the clay and mud before building the bathroom .John neil had to remove truck loads for the water feature .His backhoe sunk up to the wheels just from driving over the area . The electrical meter wants to sink and is leaning .The electrical service pipes are holding it up from sinking at the present time not a good thing. I guess the contractors should have done their research .The county inspector should have caught the bad soil conditions .We shoved 2 eight foot ground rods in by hand with out any tools completely by hand . That’s eight foot of pure soft mud the bathroom is sitting on

  • Kinda weird that it will be in the square were they sell food but I’m glad for it.Yes unfortunately it might get yucky and I don’t think I want hepatitis.SO my needs to use restroom will still be unmet ,On the other side of that seeing defecation all over peoples grave sites in our cemetery is shocking so YES give them a toilet for Heavens Sake!Hopefully they have someone from hazmat to clean it!

  • Just another thing to encourage the bums,criminals to come here & stay. Does it have light ,heat & internet connection? Whats next a ATM for the bums dirt bags,criminals??

    This gives me one more reason to stay away from Garberville & do business elsewhere. And one more reason to move out of this state!

    • Yes if you don’t have at least 10-20 generations that been living on this continent you should leave you been ripping us off to long now go sht some where else not in our river all you people think you belong here get off
      or take care of things properly are family ! respect !

  • I think the homeless will clean up after themselves, they will keep the area clean and neat. and will be friendly and kind if you promise to give them more. how about free housing at Tooby Park. this all sounds wonderful. remember the people you meet on the way up you will meet again on the way down

  • I can smell it already…..

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