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Does the Portland Loo Have a Future in Austin?

The Portland Loo is revered as a sturdy, functional public restroom.
Image courtesy
The Portland Loo is revered as a sturdy, functional public restroom.

You can add another entry to the list of big city amenities Austin is missing: a professional sports team, a subway system, and now – ubiquitous public toilets.

The Atlantic Cities blog has a paean to the Portland Loo, a standalone toilet free to the public, as the Rose City prepares to launch their fifth public restroom with – what else? – an inaugural flush.

To what does Atlantic Cities attribute the Loos’ success? A minimal, “defense-first design” that puts a spigot for washing up outside; sturdy, reinforced doors; and bars at the top and bottom of the structure.Do the loos have any chance in Austin? With many already noting and debating the similarities between Portland and Austin thanks to a certain TV show, this is one Stumptown idea that doesn’t involve indiscriminate pickling or putting birds on things. And they’re easy to acquire, as the City of Portland, which holds the patent on the design, sells the loos themselves.

While there's no master list of the City of Austin's public restrooms, the closest approximation is a tally of parks restrooms: Just over 100, according to this interactive parks viewing map.

Here's a video about the Portland Loo:

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.