New push to get public restrooms in Chinatown

Published  7:57 PM HST Apr 24, 2013
Bathroom
HONOLULU -

Chinatown leaders say the shortage of public bathrooms is a problem, and maybe even a deterrent for visitors.

Hunting for keys is not fun when you're battling nature's calling, and anyone who's been in that position in Chinatown knows the feeling.  If you need to go, good luck trying to find a restroom.

"If you don't have the key you have to wait for someone at the door," said shopper Agnes Caires.

She said the secret to the lack of restrooms is wait and sneak in when someone is exiting.

The typically private matter is getting mentioned a lot these days.  Community leaders are now pushing to get public toilets in Chinatown.  They say it beats the alternative.

"I have to be truthful, you have homeless people, they got to go they got to go," said shopper Andy Allen.

"You go by different places and smell it, but I haven't actually seen it," said Michael Garcia.

There was a 90-day weekend public toilet program in the River of Life building in Chinatown.  Organizers said in just those 90 days there were 1,000 people who used the public toilets.

However, that was back in 2011, and it ran out of funds.  Now, they are asking for permanent public restrooms.  Especially with the growing number of tourists, shoppers, and new events like First Friday.

"It's the shopper, the people who are taking the bus stopping in Chinatown.  Also our homeless population. They need a place to go," said community leader Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock.

"When there's no place to go, the trees, the planter boxes, the sidewalks become the bathroom -- the doorways,  anyplace they need to go, they go," said Allen.

The working plan is for a restroom that's storefront, so everyone has easy access.

"We hope that we can do two bathrooms, a boy and girl bathroom.  Even if we do a unisex bathroom, it's good because the need is there," said Shubert-Kwock.

Community leaders said they will be meeting with the mayor's office on Thursday to discuss getting a public restroom in Chinatown.  Their goal is to have one up and running by the end of the year.

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