2018 National Planning Conference

Toilets in the Public Realm

Saturday, April 21, 2018 from 2:45 p.m. - 4 p.m. CDT

Location: R08

CM | 1.25

Cost: Included in Registration

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC188230


  • How to overcome the challenges of providing toilets in the public realm, including funding, design, public opinion, maintenance, and operational challenges
  • How to improve access to public toilets to different user groups, including those experiencing homelessness, those using public parks, and tourists
  • Opportunities for achieving positive outcomes related to social justice, public health, and economic vitality as a result of improving access to public toilets


Is access to public toilets a convenience, a hazard, or a necessity? That may depend on whom you ask — and how badly you need one at any given time. Many U.S. cities have limited public toilets, but does it have to be that way? This panel discussion will interrogate the issue of providing toilet facilities to the public in a variety of places and capacities, including in public parks, in tourist areas, and for people experiencing homelessness. Panelists will review the challenges of installing and maintaining public facilities to understand why they’re currently so rare and less-than-functional. These experts will also consider the importance of public toilets and other personal hygiene facilities for different populations and present the benefits and opportunities for improvement through case studies from across California. The panel will consist of a long-time advocate in the Sacramento region who has worked to improve public restroom access for people experiencing homelessness; the homelessness policy director in Los Angeles, who will cover current efforts and challenges in skid row; and an architect/planner who will offer creative design solutions that can ameliorate some of the costs and limitations.

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Session Speakers

Chelsea Richer, AICP
Fehr & Peers
Glendale, CA

Bob Erlenbusch
Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness
Sacramento, CA

Emily S. Gable
West Hollywood, CA

Lucia Fischer
Santa Monica, CA

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