March 2, 2004
They were wonderful toilets put up by wonderful people for wonderful reasons.
The doors open and close like those on an elevator. You step in. They softly seal shut behind you.
"Welcome to Seattle's public toilet," says the kind of voice you might hear as you board a space ride at Disneyland.
The self-cleaning cylindrical bathrooms include a toilet, wastepaper basket, and sink with a dispenser that dribbles out soap. They are wheelchair-accessible.
See? Wonderful! Here's how it turned out:
Made in Germany, and leased by the city, the public restrooms are expected to cost a total of about $600,000 a year. They will be paid for through sewer revenues. Since the 1980s, Seattle business owners have said the lack of public restrooms was the top issue facing downtown.
Business owners across the city have been forced to figure out ways to keep drug users and others out of their bathrooms while keeping the toilets open to customers.
August 16, 2008
At least Butch Behn is happy, eh? But it was all so wonderful! What happened?!
Seattle has officially washed its hands of the five self-cleaning toilets.
The toilets cost the city $5 million. They sold on eBay Thursday evening for $12,549.
All five were sold to Racecar Supply, of Rochester, in Thurston County, with winning bids ranging from $1,625 to $4,899 per commode, said Pat Miller, spokesman for Seattle's Fleets and Facilities Department. "What a buy," said Racecar Supply owner Butch Behn. "Wouldn't you think it's a really good deal, considering what they paid for them? It was a gift."
The high-tech public toilets, with sanitizing water jets and automatic doors, were installed in 2004 to accommodate tourists and transients in Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, the central waterfront, Pike Place Market and the Chinatown International District. But the city canceled its contract this spring after the commodes became filthy hide-outs for drug use and prostitution.When the problem is pushers, pimps, prostitutes and their clientèle mangling the toilets of private businesses, the solution is not a self cleaning public toilet. The astute reader will note that the newspaper is ever so carefully not laying any blame here for the flushing of five million tax dollars in this affair. They liked the idea, they are surprised and disappointed it didn't work. They think it should have worked.
What would have been the solution? Empowering the private businessmen to forcibly eject pushers, pimps, prostitutes and etc. from their premises, one would think. (In some circles this is called "freedom".) Why is this obvious, free and effective solution unacceptable to the Seattle brain trust? Because it sends authority to make decisions and use force out to the general population at the expense of the central government control. They don't want to give up the power to make sure everything is being done properly.
Now we begin to understand the problem.