That’s some port-a-potty: downtown Santa Rosa gets $268,000 stall for nature’s call

When you gotta go, you gotta go, and now when you gotta go downtown, there’s someplace you can, well, go.

Wielding a ceremonial gold plunger, Santa Rosa Councilman Jack Tibbetts was flush with excitement Monday as he christened the city’s new public restroom, which was installed after months of controversy over where to put it.

No word on how much the city spent on the plunger, but the restroom itself cost $267,795, which anyone in immediate need would say is a good use of public money. The cost included transportation, installation, utility hookups and accessibility improvements.

Some downtown business owners on Tuesday were especially excited about the new can, which they hope will bring them a different kind of relief.

“We don’t have public restrooms and I get bombarded by people wanting to use our restroom,” said Neal Mogannam, 4th Street Deli owner, who recalled someone sneaking into his eatery’s throne room a few years ago and leaving a mess.

Other business owners said they’ve unfortunately witnessed people making messes in public and will be eager to point out the new washroom to anyone struggling to hold it in.

In any case, the new unisex privy is called a Portland loo after the city where it was designed.

It’s only a one-holer, but it does have a baby-changing station and stainless-steel walls “that are difficult to vandalize and easy to clean,” according to a city announcement that strangely left out the part about whose job cleaning it will be. Here’s a guess: It won’t be Tibbets or Mayor Chris Rogers, who were both on hand for the toilet’s coming out party.

The city had initially hoped to put it on Courthouse Square, but business owners claimed it would blight the area.

City officials finally settled on a site two blocks away, which they described as a “compromise,” although anyone who’s ever walked two blocks with a full bladder might beg to differ.

Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Peter Rumble said only time will tell if the new toilet has positive results. He said “it’s here, there’s no argument against it.”

The new location is in front of the Santa Rosa City Hall Annex, at Santa Rosa Avenue and First Street, and we’re putting city officials on notice that we better not find any of you guys trying to flush any shredded documents in there.

That’s super convenient for anyone catching a bus at the transit center across the street. Just ask Santa Rosa resident Steve Rice, who took advantage of the restroom minutes before catching a bus across town Tuesday afternoon.

“I can ride easy, I guess you could say,” Rice, 43, quipped. “Very convenient having the toilet nearby.”

Bernie Schwartz, who owns California Luggage on Fourth Street, said he’s seen people relieving themselves in public and he presumes the toilet will be extra beneficial to those who don’t have access to indoor plumbing. He doesn’t see anything wrong with the new structure.

“As far as having it or not having it, I’m pretty neutral,” he said.

In case you have trouble finding it while you’re holding it, it has its own address, 94 Santa Rosa Ave., which you can just plug into your phone.

Just remember to wash your hands when you’re done, and men, remember to leave the seat down.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Pera at [email protected] On Twitter @Matt__Pera.