The city plans to embark on a pilot project at Ala Moana Beach Park to see if less private restrooms can help deter crime.
Currently, many of the comfort stations at beaches and parks across Oahu feature cement block construction that prevents police or anyone else from seeing who’s inside. The new design at Ala Moana would provide a gap near the floor of the facility so anyone could see how many people are inside.
“I think after all these years it might take some getting used to, but I think it’s something that in the long run would be tremendously beneficial for everyone,” said Councilman Joey Manahan, chairman of the Parks and Customer Services Committee.
The Department of Parks and Recreation is in the process of redesigning the busiest comfort station at Ala Moana as part of a pilot project. If it’s deemed a success, the project could be expanded to other locations.
“We are still in the early stages of planning, therefore costs and a timeline have not been finalized yet,” said Parks and Recreation Director Michelle Nekota.
However, one design being considered by the city is the Portland Loo. The new-age comfort station has slanted louvers on the top and bottom to guarantee privacy, while still allowing a clear view inside. Natural light, solar panels and a heavy-gauge stainless steel design also helps cut down on operating and maintenance costs.
“I think that the city should do everything that they can to ensure that the facilities at these parks are safe and secure,” said Councilman Ron Menor, vice chair of the Parks and Customer Services Committee. “And so in that regard, whatever the administration can come up with to achieve that objective, I would be strongly supportive of.”
According to Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, a standard Portland Loo costs $90,000 and is easily installed. However, bureau spokesman Linc Mann said no statistics are available on whether the design has helped discourage crime.
Still, Ala Moana beachgoers approached by KITV4 were supportive of the city’s pilot project, even if it means giving up more of their privacy.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Kalihi resident Ui Yette. “As a woman, safety is a big thing, so the fact that you would be able to see clearly through everything sounds like a great idea.”