Street Mail: The Fast in San Diego (fwd)

P. Myers (
Sat, 6 Dec 1997 05:05:02 -0800 (PST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2000 22:33:26 -0800
To: Street Mail Mailing List <>
Subject: Street Mail: The Fast in San Diego

>Hey, it's me.=20

>Ron Powell is a good, compassionate writer who has covered many=20
stories about
>homelessness.  Compare, however, the "press release" I sent you with=20
this story.=20


Activist launches fast to protest lack of 24-hour restroom for the=20

By Ronald W. Powell=20

 Homeless activist Larry Milligan says he will not eat until street=20
people in downtown San
Diego have access to restrooms, both day and night.=20

 Milligan began his fast yesterday afternoon, sitting in front of a=20
city-operated public restroom
at Third Avenue and C-Street. The restroom closes at 10 p.m., leaving=20
homeless individuals
with no choice but to go to the bathroom outdoors.=20

 He says the situation is unsanitary and mean-spirited.=20

 "I don't look at this as a protest," Milligan said. "It's an act=20
that is being done out of
humiliation and shame. There are 4,000 people out here at night=20
without a place to go to the

Propped next to him was a sign: This fast is about love, faith in=20
human rights and proper
hygiene for all."=20

The City Council adopted a homeless policy on July 12, 1995, part of=20
which says, "24-hour
Public restroom facilities will be made available to the homeless=20

 Milligan, who helped collect 8,000 signatures during the early 1990s=20
in support of 24-hour
restrooms, says the city is turning its back on its own policy.=20

 While acknowledging that city policy calls for around-the-clock=20
public restrooms, a
spokesman for Mayor Susan Golding said the city has run into problems=20
when it has
provided the facilities.=20

 Some time after the policy was approved, the city left the restrooms=20
open overnight for a
two-week period and the results were poor, said Golding's press=20
secretary, Scott Maloni.=20

 He said 12 or fewer people used the restrooms each night during the=20
two weeks. During that
time, the city paid for an attendant to be present on the overnight=20

 In a subsequent two weeks, Maloni said, the city removed the=20
attendant and left the
restrooms open through the night. He said $3,000 in damage occurred=20
and there were
reports of drug use and other illegal activity.=20

 Maloni said the city would need to spend from $35,000 to $40,000 a=20
year to station an
attendant at the restroom overnight, which Golding feels is too=20

 The city plans to provide three months of winter shelter for=20
homeless men, women and
children, beginning Dec. 15.  Three shelter sites are planned; each=20
will provide bathroom
facilities.  "The mayor is hoping these added restrooms will help=20
alleviate the problem,"
Maloni said.=20
Brian Mahoney, an attorney and member of the board of directors of=20
the Homeless
Advocates of San Diego, said he complained to the mayor's office=20
about the lack of
restroom facilities last month, but did not receive a response.=20

 "They can find =B7money to spend on a stadium, but they can't do=20
anything about this," said
Mahoney, referring to the city's multimillion-dollar expansion of=20
Qualcomm Stadium.  "This is
a public health issue."=20

 Mahoney said the lack of a place for homeless people to wash their=20
hands could cause the
spread of diseases.=20

 Dave Ming, chief of the county's Department of Environmental Health,=20
said the presence of
human waste in the open could pose a slight health risk to the=20
public. Ming said flies light on
the waste and, "I hate to be morbid about this, but the flies may end=20
up on something you're

 Ming stressed that the odds of such an occurrence are not high. =20
"I'd just say that it's an issue
that needs to be addressed."=20