Anchorage Assembly’s Costly Experiment with Public Potties: Will History Repeat Itself?

In a bold move, the Anchorage Assembly is considering a $9 million bond question that would allow the city to build 18 or more public toilets, each costing around $500,000. However, property taxpayers would be left to foot the bill for this ambitious endeavor. While the idea may seem noble, it is crucial to examine the potential consequences before rushing into a decision that could burden taxpayers.

The bond question, proposed by Assembly Chairman Chris Constant and Assemblywomen Anna Brawley and Meg Zaletel, was initially brought up last year but has been postponed until the upcoming Assembly meeting on Tuesday. If approved, the bond question would not only fund the construction of these public potties but also increase the tax cap by approximately $540,000 to cover the maintenance costs.

Proponents of this initiative point to a similar project in Portland, Oregon, as a successful model. However, it is essential to consider the outcome of that venture. Shortly after installation, every single toilet unit in Portland was vandalized or damaged in some way within the first few months. Three years later, due to skyrocketing maintenance costs and ongoing vandalism issues, most of the 130 toilets have been removed, leaving only 16 still standing.

Critics argue that by emulating Portland and Seattle, the Anchorage Assembly may be setting itself up for a costly experiment that could yield similar results. It is crucial to learn from past mistakes and consider alternative solutions that could address the issue of public restroom availability without burdening taxpayers.

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Implications and Considerations:

1. Financial Burden: The proposed bond question would place a heavy financial burden on Anchorage taxpayers. Before making a decision, it is crucial to consider whether this is the most cost-effective solution or if there are alternative options that could achieve the same outcome at a lower cost.

2. Vandalism Concerns: History has shown that the installation of public toilets can lead to rampant vandalism. Anchorage must carefully assess the potential risks and determine whether additional security measures or alternative restroom designs can mitigate this issue.

3. Maintenance Costs: The maintenance costs associated with these public potties are a significant concern. Anchorage must evaluate whether the increased tax cap will be sufficient to cover ongoing maintenance expenses or if there are more sustainable alternatives, such as partnering with local businesses or community organizations.

4. Lessons from Portland: Anchorage should learn from the experiences of Portland, where the majority of the installed toilets had to be removed due to vandalism and rising maintenance costs. It is essential to consider the long-term viability of this proposal and assess whether it aligns with the city’s goals and priorities.


Q: Why is the Anchorage Assembly considering such an expensive project?
A: The Assembly believes that increasing the availability of public restrooms is essential for the city’s residents and visitors. However, the cost-effectiveness and long-term sustainability of this proposal need to be carefully evaluated.

Q: Are there alternative solutions?
A: Yes, there may be alternative solutions that could address the need for public restrooms without the significant financial burden. Exploring partnerships with local businesses, incentivizing private property owners to provide public restroom access, or implementing mobile restroom facilities are just a few potential options worth considering.

Q: How can citizens influence the decision-making process?
A: Engage with local representatives, attend Assembly meetings, and voice concerns or alternative proposals. It is crucial to provide constructive feedback and suggestions to ensure that decisions made by the Anchorage Assembly align with the best interests of the community.

Closing Statement and Key Takeaway:

As the Anchorage Assembly considers the $9 million bond question for the construction of public potties, it is vital to learn from the mistakes of the past. Replicating Portland’s costly experiment without thoroughly evaluating the potential consequences could burden taxpayers and lead to a similar outcome of vandalism and rising maintenance costs.

Anchorage must prioritize the long-term sustainability and cost-effectiveness of any solution aimed at increasing public restroom availability. By exploring alternative options, engaging in open dialogue, and learning from past experiences, the city can make informed decisions that best serve its residents and visitors.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

Remember to check back for updates on this ongoing story, as the decision made by the Anchorage Assembly will have a lasting impact on the community.

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