by Martha Sadler

Former Santa Barbara City Council candidate Bob Hansen
(pictured) has renewed his campaign to make bathrooms available
24/7 for the homeless who sleep and congregate near lower Milpas
Street. At budget hearings last week, Hansen urged county
supervisors to consider the effect on ocean water quality of people
going to the bathroom “behind bushes and dumpsters.” Given Hansen’s
long record of agitating for homeless bathrooms, he is clearly a
force to be reckoned with. A few weeks ago, he personally rented a
port-a-potty, placed it near the Casa Esperanza Shelter on Cacique
Street, and paid for its servicing. When the city became aware of
it, they ordered it removed because Hansen had not applied for a
permit. In the ’80s, Hansen advocated for bathrooms to accommodate
the homeless on State Street, responding to complaints about the
smell of urine emanating from planters. His vociferous activism
prodded the city to begin reimbursing restaurants for allowing the
public to use their restrooms, and to start providing downtown
port-a-potties that were open all night. The first ones in the City
Hall parking lot mushroomed into numerous port-a-potties frequented
by downtown weekend partyers, and ultimately to the $400,000
red-tile-roofed public toilets — one for women, one for men — now
under construction adjacent to Borders. As for other relief
options, the bathrooms at the perennially smelly softball diamonds
and elsewhere on the beachfront are closed at night, and Casa
Esperanza’s original plan for 24-hour toilets fell through after
managers found that policy problematic.


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