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Seattle Flushes $5M High-Tech Toilets

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the siruis-cybernetics-corp.-was-here dept.

Government 433

theodp writes "Hopes were high back in 2004 as Seattle's posh public potties opened for business. But four years later, city officials have said good riddance to the five high-tech toilets, self-cleaning and cylindrical, that had cost Seattle $5 million. The city unloaded them on eBay for just $12,549. The commodes had become filthy hide-outs for drug use and prostitution."

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Just Remember... (5, Funny)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643385)

We're talking about Seattle, so most of the people there would've been cool with that if the janitor had just visited more often.

God, I wish I didn't have to move. ;_;

Re:Just Remember... (5, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643445)

The insight here was that they were self-cleaning so no need for a janitor.

But maybe an option should have been that if somebody was there for more than 30 minutes then the self cleaning should have started.

Re:Just Remember... (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643557)

Hey, the homeless get free showers and the prostitutes stop being dirty*.

Win/Win.

*Of course, she might have to do a little gymnastics depending upon the location of the cleansing jets.

Re:Just Remember... (5, Insightful)

nbert (785663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643721)

The insight here was that they were self-cleaning so no need for a janitor.

Let's see: They estimated maintenance costs of $600,000 a year [nwsource.com] . I don't know much about wages in the US, but it's fair to assume that 5 janitors would have done the job at a lower price.

Ignoring the price tag and maintenance cost I'm still wondering why those toilets failed in Seattle. We have toilets from the same manufacturer over here (Berlin, DE) and they don't attract much drug abuse or prostitution, because if you spend too much time in there the door simply opens.
I'm not kidding, it happened to a friend of mine who for some reason unknown to me decided to roll a joint in there. Since he told me I've stopped using them for their intended purpose.

Re:Just Remember... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643849)

We have toilets from the same manufacturer over here (Berlin, DE) and they don't attract much drug abuse or prostitution, because if you spend too much time in there the door simply opens.
I'm not kidding, it happened to a friend of mine who for some reason unknown to me decided to roll a joint in there. Since he told me I've stopped using them for their intended purpose.

A) Funny parts bolded.

B) Your friend is slow. I suggest a rolling machine.

Re:Just Remember... (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643933)

We have toilets from the same manufacturer over here (Berlin, DE) and they don't attract much drug abuse or prostitution, because if you spend too much time in there the door simply opens.
I'm not kidding, it happened to a friend of mine who for some reason unknown to me decided to roll a joint in there. Since he told me I've stopped using them for their intended purpose.

I just read an article about these self-cleaning toilets a few weeks ago. I think it was about New York getting some, or considering getting some, in order to ease their problems with lack of public restrooms. The article said that if you stay in there for more than 15 minutes, the door would just open automatically. That was considered to be a deterrent to people using them for "alternative purposes."

Re:Just Remember... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644069)

FTFA: "The commodes had become filthy hide-outs for drug use and prostitution."

I was thinking, these things must be custom made for Hollywood!!

Bathrooms that automatically dispense coke and hookers.

Aside from the 'dirty' part described in the article, I fail to see a real downside here??

Re:Just Remember... (3, Interesting)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643979)

I'm always amazed at how stupid city councils can be. I live in Chapel Hill, and ours is out-there. Our downtown is suffering from stiff competition from South Point and other new shopping locations. Many stores are closed up, and our downtown may suffer a long slow decay. So what do we do? Our city council's actions over the last 8 years:

- Bring a homeless shelter 1 block from the center of town
- Build benches along the main street, one block from the homeless shelter
- Increase parking rates, and make sure to provide no 2-hour free or validated parking

Brilliant... just brilliant. Here's a story about our mayor. Our hospital is accessed by a congested two-lane road from the south, and ambulances get stuck just like all the rest. UNC wants to widen the road, and there's plenty of legit reasons why many people oppose the plan. Why does our mayor oppose it? He is opposed to all additional road surface. His compromise plan? Allow the road to be widened, but then remove the pavement from a 4-lane road north of town to offset the total paved area.

The city council actually passed this plan. When the city called the DOT and asked for the road to be narrowed, the poor guy over there had no idea what to do. There's no road narrowing department at the DOT. Top level people at the DOT were consulted, and it is now standard at DOT to ignore any silly Chapel Hill requests!

Re:Just Remember... (4, Funny)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644029)

Hitler was effective government. Stalin was effective government. You sir are clearly living in the safest place on the planet due to what is probably the most innane and ineffective government around. Be happy.

Re:Just Remember... (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644179)

Ignoring the price tag and maintenance cost I'm still wondering why those toilets failed in Seattle.

BSOD? And this time, B doesn't stand for blue...

Re:Just Remember... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24644187)

Read the original article from 2004 (link in head). These DID open after 15 mins. Apparently drug users and prostitutes managed anyway, and also managed to vandalize the cleaning mechanisms so they no longer worked.

Also read the politician's promises in 2004 that this would not be a problem and could easily be prevented.

Re:Just Remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643887)

The insight here was that they were self-cleaning so no need for a janitor.

But maybe an option should have been that if somebody was there for more than 30 minutes then the self cleaning should have started.

So homeless people that want to use the bathroom and get a shower just have to hang out for a half hour? Cool. Its a win win. We get cleaner homeless people and they get the use of a 3/4 bath, shower and toilet. I think it's a great idea.

Re:Just Remember... (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644071)

Even starting with people still in it may not have done it. Let's see, someone on drugs..."cool, its raining, Dude." Someone with a hooker, ...shower ;)

Re:Just Remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24644115)

But maybe an option should have been that if somebody was there for more than 30 minutes then the self cleaning should have started.

And that is exactly what the public toilets in NYC [gothamist.com] do. They are similar self-cleaning high tech toilets. The time limit is around 15 minutes before the door opens automatically so you need to "work fast" to finish your business. ;)

Tragic. (5, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643389)

And common.

Seriously, who couldn't see this coming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24644047)

$5M for 5 shit cans for the homeless (I've been a tourist in Seattle and had no problem using private toilets)? And $250k to restore the toilet sites to their previous state? Someone made a very stupid decision, and they need to be held accountable to taxpayers. This money should come out of their salary until the full sum is paid back.

Well I could have told you that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643395)

In fact I'm pretty sure I did but of course people still believe that high tech must be better.

Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643409)

In Vancouver, BC, drug use and prostitution are (if not outright legal) decriminalized. This means that the government is able to help those with a problem instead of being forced to put them away in prison.

The public toilets getting abused is a sign of a much deeper problem. It's the puritanical mindset of Americans that pushes these normal behaviors into the shadows and away from the help that the victims so desperately need.

It's a total waste of time to sell these things. It just means fewer public bathrooms downtown, and if you've ever been to a city with no public bathrooms (Philadelphia), you know that the terrible smell is the result.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (4, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643505)

It's the puritanical mindset of Americans that pushes these normal behaviors into the shadows

Into the shadows? Hardly. Sounds like you've never been to Victor Steinbrueck Park [wikipedia.org] in the middle of the most touristy section of Seattle, where you can see dozens of addicts and homeless cheerfully loitering about day or night. From Wikipedia:

"The park is a popular gathering place for tourists, but also for the mentally ill, vagrants, alcoholics, and drug addicts. Public inebriation, nudity, and calls for assistance for unconscious individuals are common; a fall-off due to increased policing in the 1990s proved shortlived. There are a lot of drug-related misdemeanors and even minor felonies, though there have been no homicides."

The only thing I find shocking is that this outcome surprised anyone.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (5, Funny)

The_Mr_Flibble (738358) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643789)

"The park is a popular gathering place for tourists, but also for the mentally ill, vagrants, alcoholics, and drug addicts. Public inebriation, nudity, and calls for assistance for unconscious individuals are common; a fall-off due to increased policing in the 1990s proved shortlived. There are a lot of drug-related misdemeanors and even minor felonies, though there have been no homicides."

Hey I'm british
That describes just about any sort of park I visit

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643843)

Describes any sort of park over here too, we just really love pretending to be shocked by it. We wouldn't have it any other way, though. What good is getting out of the house if there's nobody worse than you to gawk at?

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643869)

Afterthought: Why else is Wal-Mart so popular?

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (3, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644189)

That's an interesting question.

Last I heard (and I have seen evidence of this) is that Wal-Mart effectively has an official company policy that RVs and similar vehicles are allowed to park in their parking lots overnight, even for extended periods. Most other businesses would call the cops or chase the RVs away.

The rationale for Wal-Mart? The people in that camper parked in the parking lot are likely going to go for the most convenient supply shopping available.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643913)

From the WP article:

Victor Steinbrueck Park is a 0.8 acre (3,000 m) park

Dude, that's not a park. That's someone's back garden. *This* is a park: RegentsPark [wikipedia.org] (487 acre), or a couple from the city I'm in now: Blaise Castle [wikipedia.org] (650 acre), and The Downs [wikipedia.org] (400 acre)

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644181)

"Dude, that's not a park. That's someone's back garden. *This* is a park: RegentsPark (487 acre), or a couple from the city I'm in now: Blaise Castle (650 acre), and The Downs (400 acre)"

Nah...Here's a real park...(1300 acres). City Park [wikipedia.org] in New Orleans.

Alas...much of it is still in disrepair, although I hear one of the 2 golf courses should be up soon?

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (4, Informative)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643703)

I'm guessing you have never been to the downtown east side in Vancouver.

They are not even close to decriminalized. Just because they have one safe injection site does not mean that the police won't arrest you for dealing. It also does not mean they won't arrest you if they catch you using drugs in public.

The reality of the downtown east side is that injection drug use is so rampant that the police couldn't arrest everyone who did it even if they wanted to. The single safe injection site isn't even close to large enough and neither are the detox centers. The result is that the dug users still shoot up in the alleys.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (1)

muellerr1 (868578) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643785)

Down by the city lakes in Minneapolis there are porta-potties. I know that these things cost nowhere near $5 million to install, clean and maintain over their useful lifetimes. The issue here is not the cost or even the automation of the public bathrooms, but how a publicly-available private space will get used for all kinds of private things.

Our public toilets are mainly used by joggers, bicyclists, kids, and I'm sure the occasional Larry Craig. The real issue is whether the need for public toilets for legitimate purposes overrides the Senator's uses. If there aren't enough people around for somebody to call the police then either lock the bathrooms during low-traffic times or reexamine why you've placed a public toilet in a low-traffic area.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (4, Informative)

Kinwolf (945345) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643813)

How can it be decriminalised in Vancouver? Drug use and prostitution is a federal offense written in the criminal code of Canada, no city law can change or overrule that.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643987)

At least in the United States, most drug offenses are caught at the city level. While things like marijuana are considered dangerous drugs and can be prosecuted at all levels, there is a significant amount of discretion that can be applied to each police department. In Seattle and several other cities the laws were amended so that enforcement of the personal use of marijuana is the lowest law enforcement priority. Smoking a joint is still illegal in Seattle, but that doesn't stop public events like Hempfest from having massive outdoor stoner parties.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643883)

Hey, I work in Philadelphia, and I wish to inform you that much of the city IS one large public bathroom.

I was victimized by drugs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643917)

It's the puritanical mindset of Americans that pushes these normal behaviors into the shadows and away from the help that the victims so desperately need.

Drugs held them down against their will, that's why they're victims? Or doing drugs is normal?

The Slacker Homeless in Vancouver are just lazy bums.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (2, Insightful)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644125)

Where what were once vices are now virtues.

Re:Meanwhile, 3 hours by car away... (4, Informative)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644167)

There was an article on this in the NY Times a couple of weeks ago. In addition to drug use and prostitution, people would leave so much trash in the toilets that the automatic scrubbers had to be disabled or they jammed on the trash... and as a result, the toilets became so disgusting that even the druggies avoided them.

""I'm not going to lie: I used to smoke crack in there," said one homeless woman, Veronyka Cordner, nodding toward the toilet behind Pike Place Market. "But I won't even go inside that thing now. It's disgusting.""

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/17/us/17toilets.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=seattle%20public%20toilet&st=cse&oref=slogin [nytimes.com]

IMO, the reason this works in other countries but not in the U.S. has nothing to do with our "puritanical mindset": instead, it's because Americans have no concept of public common space. We feel that everything on Earth is for our exclusive personal use until someone tries to stop us.

The City of Seattle (3, Insightful)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643421)

must have been swimming in their people's money to buy $5M in toilets. If I were a resident I'd be quite enraged over it.

seattle-PI- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643427)

story on seattlePI.nwsource.com ?

Seattle, You're Doin' It Wrong (2, Informative)

strelitsa (724743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643431)

1. Legalize drugs and prostitution.

2. ???

3. PROFIT!!!

Re:Seattle, You're Doin' It Wrong (3, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643699)

1. Legalize drugs and prostitution.

2. ???

3. PROFIT!!!

But how do they profit when they can't steal^Wseize your property on a whim any more?

Re:Seattle, You're Doin' It Wrong (3, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643773)

It's called taxation...

Re:Seattle, You're Doin' It Wrong (1)

Osurak (1013927) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643713)

1. Legalize drugs and prostitution.

2. ???

3. PROFIT!!!

You forgot a step:

4. Get voted out of office at the earliest opportunity.

Re:Seattle, You're Doin' It Wrong (2, Insightful)

Darby (84953) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643797)

4. Get voted out of office at the earliest opportunity.

It's a sad thing when standing up for the Constitution and working to greatly reduce violent crime guarantees someone would get voted out.

Re:Seattle, You're Doin' It Wrong (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644227)

"It's a sad thing when standing up for the Constitution and working to greatly reduce violent crime guarantees someone would get voted out."

Well, heck, public service was never meant to be a lifetime career anyway....

Get in, change the laws, and get out...win/win situation all around.

Re:Seattle, You're Doin' It Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24644177)

Informative? are the mods on crack today?

Amsterdam (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643447)

This is why Amsterdam has public toilets that look like this: http://lh3.ggpht.com/_D4avj_GZuq4/SAsa2yTgvYI/AAAAAAAAB6E/ANS4tx2JuKc/toilet.jpg [ggpht.com]

Sure, it is not very private, nor can it be considered to be self-cleaning. But they aren't very attractive hideouts for prostitution and drug use either.

Haha! As if Amsterdam had any prostitution or drug use going!

Re:Amsterdam (3, Funny)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643493)

Amsterdam's toilets look like a 404? What, do you have to piss into the hole between the two fours?

Re:Amsterdam (2, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643515)

Nah, they just have a quick thinking sysadmin who reads Slashdot.

 

Re:Amsterdam (1)

Sobieski (1032500) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643581)

The image works now, it's a urinal with four sides and no walls placed on a sidewalk. It looks very temporary, with a loop on top for a crane to hook into for easy moving.

I have seen the same type here in Sweden during festivals, good idea IMO.

Re:Amsterdam (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643759)

Amsterdam has some permanent stone constructions called "urinors" aswell, they are basically a stone wall with a hole at around the right height to piss through, and a canal is on the other side... Not very pleasant for anyone who happens to be in a passing boat.

Re:Amsterdam (2, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644065)

Don't be so sure, I've met some freaky people from Amsterdam.

Re:Amsterdam (1)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643805)

Curiously after your comment I tried the link again and the image was still down. So I tried with Konqueror instead and there it is...back to Firefox and I get a 404.

If I modify the URL in Firefox, hit enter, and modify it back it will finally agree to give me the image. But not if I follow the /. link. Weird.

Re:Amsterdam (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643975)

He's checking the referer [wikipedia.org] and dumping all traffic from /.

It's a good solution to prevent slashdotting, while keeping your site available.

Re:Amsterdam (1)

CatoNine (638960) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644007)

The best and most pretty urinal in Amsterdam is De Krul (the Curl)
        http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afbeelding:Krul2.jpg [wikipedia.org]
The design dates back to 1880 and it is very airy above *and* below
to facilitate inspection for inappropriate use.
Cheers, Richard (Amsterdam)

Re:Amsterdam (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644095)

Probably blocking Slasdot referer headers but not empty referer headers. you should be able to just click your address bar and hit enter without the modification part.

Re:Amsterdam (1)

slash.duncan (1103465) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644191)

Hmm, possible /. referrer block? Depending on how your browsers are setup, of course, but presumably you loaded konqueror for the link directly so it wouldn't have had the /. referrer, while you were using firefox to view /. first, and clicking the link directly then had /. as your referrer, while manually changing the address bar didn't.

FWIW it's working in both browsers here, but both are running thru privoxy, with referrer conditional-block (delete header if coming from a different server), so clicking thru from /. to a different site would appear as if I typed or copied the link in, or used a bookmark -- no referrer header. WTF do they need to know what other site I was coming from? Thus, they don't get that info from me!

Re:Amsterdam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643729)

Proper link:

http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afbeelding:Krul2.jpg

Re:Amsterdam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643983)

It's a three shell prototype

Re:Amsterdam (1)

eggoeater (704775) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643765)

Sure, it is not very private, nor can it be considered to be self-cleaning. But they aren't very attractive hideouts for prostitution and drug use either.

Actually, when I was on vacation in Seattle in '04, I had to use the public restrooms at Pike Place. The doors on the stalls were maybe 3 feet high so cops can see you from the torso up to (1) make sure you're alone and (2) not doing drugs. Luckily it was a Sunday morning and there wasn't anyone else in there. Also, it was fairly clean for a public restroom in downtown Seattle.

$5,000,000? (2, Insightful)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643461)

Sounds like they got ripped off in the first place. It shouldn't cost that much to develop something like that unless you have no clue about what you're doing.

Re:$5,000,000? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643511)

Sounds like they got ripped off in the first place. It shouldn't cost that much to develop something like that unless you have no clue about what you're doing.

Chances are the sale cost was based on "what the manufacturer thinks customers would be willing to pay" rather than "what they cost to develop".

Re:$5,000,000? (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643613)

Like, you know, every product out there.

Re:$5,000,000? (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643671)

Yeah, I that's what I thought. Surely a public city project can find developers willing to treat it like a public project, and not a commercial project? But then again, this is the US, not Sweden, I guess.

Re:$5,000,000? (1)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643629)

Automated Public Conveniences have been around for years. For example:

http://www.jcdecaux.co.uk/development/apc/ [jcdecaux.co.uk]

cost around £100,000 to buy and install, then some amount each year for maintenance. I guess they spent so much on the install they had no money left to look after the things.

Re:$5,000,000? (3, Interesting)

Dr. Hok (702268) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643687)

Sounds like they got ripped off in the first place.

True, especially since we have the same toilets here (Berlin, Germany). IIRC they were installed for free, the deal being that the toilet operator uses the outside walls for advertising. And gets 50c per pee, but I doubt that this covers the expenses.

AFAICT we don't have any problems with drugs and prostitution on these toilets, in case you're curious.

Open the pot bay door, Hal (5, Funny)

wisty (1335733) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643463)

I'm sorry David, I can't do that.

What is the story here? (4, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643467)

I'm confused. This type of toilet is quite popular all sorts of places, so I guess they must be cheaper than providing toilets in some other way. But as Seattle aren't going to be replacing them with anything else... that is going to be cheaper. So, what's the story? That Seattle can't afford public toilets?

Re:What is the story here? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643697)

Seems pretty messed up when an entire city can't have public toilets. As an Australian we have an entire country filled with public toilets. Seems to be a non-issue over here.

Re:What is the story here? (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643871)

Public facilities in some areas will be ruined by the hopeless loser (it's no troll to call them what they are!) segment of the public, such as bums, drunks, and junkies. That makes providing those facilities a waste.

Re:What is the story here? (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644161)

such as bums, drunks, and junkies.

Whew! 2 out 3! Almost became a hopeless loser there!
 
/wipes sweat off brow with grimy towel

They need to raise taxes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643475)

Since they're obviously so smart about how to spend the taxpayers' money.

War on Drugs (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643491)

Just gets better and better.

Still, you get the government you deserve.

 

Well... (4, Insightful)

Fyz (581804) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643501)

That sucks, but this is how progress works. You can't know if something will pan out in advance, because there are too many variables.

And if it had been a massive success, $5M would have been pocket change compared to the convenience and cost effectiveness of full automation.

Re:Well... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643591)

ARE YOU NUTS!? How in the world does it make ANY sense to not pay a janitor a yearly salary to clean FIVE TOILETS instead of $5 million???? At $55,000 per year you could get 3 janitors on salary for 30 years. I'm pretty sure 3 janitors could clean more than 5 toilets in a day.

You're the kind of jackass that is in Seattle govt.

Re:Well... (1)

Fyz (581804) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643717)

Before you start calling me names, Mr. Coward, maybe you should consider what that money went to. My guess is, primarily research and development.

Do you think Seattle would buy more toilets if it was a success? Do you think that if they bought, say, 100 toilets, they would still be paying a million a pop?

Now unfortunately, it turns out that these units weren't as cheap to maintain as they were supposed to be. Well, that's tough, but unless you're the kind of jackass who believes that backwards rationalization is a valid line of argumentation, you couldn't know that until it had been tried out.

And if it *had* worked, you might be seeing these all over the world in a few years time.

Re:Well... (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644117)

Before you start calling me names, Mr. Coward, maybe you should consider what that money went to. My guess is, primarily research and development.

So the City of Seattle was doing this as a charitable donation to research and development of public restroom technology by a German company?

Now unfortunately, it turns out that these units weren't as cheap to maintain as they were supposed to be. Well, that's tough, but unless you're the kind of jackass who believes that backwards rationalization is a valid line of argumentation, you couldn't know that until it had been tried out.

I wonder what evidence they had up front that those maintenance projections were realistic, or what assumptions were made about things like police monitoring and such. I haven't seen anything about it that in any of the articles.

Must Be A Consultant in there Somewhere (2, Insightful)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643517)

How on earth did five toilets for $5 million get green-lighted? It must have been a consultant spending somebody else's money and with a fee to justify. How are the voters of Seattle going to reward that terrible waste? Just crazy. That's what's wrong with American right now--so many people willing to screw their fellow man if they can make a dollar off of it. Call it the American way (I would not) but it's killing us. We need to get some honesty and proportion back in our daily lives and business.

Re:Must Be A Consultant in there Somewhere (1)

The Dancing Panda (1321121) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643585)

The outside of the toilets were going to be used for advertising space, and the money from that was going to the city, so to the city the toilets were an investment. It didn't end up working out as planned, obviously.

Re:Must Be A Consultant in there Somewhere (3, Insightful)

stry_cat (558859) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643863)

Q: "How are the voters of Seattle going to reward that terrible waste?"

A: By reelecting them in a landslide.

No I don't understand why, but its pretty common all across America.

Re:Must Be A Consultant in there Somewhere (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644085)

I'm trying to figure that out myself. Another poster also mentioned the yearly maintainance was $600,000, or $120k per toilet.

What's the cost of renting out a small storefront, installing a restroom or two, and paying a janitor to rotate between two or three sites to clean the rooms during the busiest hours of the day/night?

Tragedy of the commons (1, Insightful)

frenchgates (531731) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643527)

Seattle toilets are to drug users and prostitutes as the internet is to spammers and hackers. Discuss.

Is this really a geek story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643559)

I didn't think you could get more than 20 comments about talking about toilets. Seems I was wrong.

I hear Google is offering a replacement (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24643573)

Google is offering the use of a new set of public gToilets in exchange for the ability to scan your waste for leftover products and potential diseases and then offer you contextual ads while you're in the unit.

People, I'm disappointed (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643609)

Such a unique chance for toilet humor and already pages and pages of replies but still nothing?

What happened to the /. we all loved so much?

Re:People, I'm disappointed (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643755)

What happened to the /. we all loved so much?

It's gone to pot!

toilet homour (3, Funny)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643619)

So Seattle's authorities were flushed with success untill their 'Big Idea' went down the pan!

It was their own fault (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643625)

They need to have the toilet be able to give a shower or open the door automatically after a length of time. In particular, I would think that it should open up after 5 minutes UNLESS the person pushes a button within that timeframe.

Re:It was their own fault (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644153)

They need to have the toilet be able to give a shower or open the door automatically after a length of time. In particular, I would think that it should open up after 5 minutes UNLESS the person pushes a button within that timeframe.

Supposedly these things open automatically after 15 minutes with no chance to override. I don't see how having an override button would improve the situation. I guess people couldn't sleep in there too well, but drugs and prostitution would still be a problem.

Like intentionally uncomfortable benches (4, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643633)

This is like when they put up park benches that are intentionally made uncomfortable to sleep on. I understand why, but something is just wrong with society when that happens.

Re:Like intentionally uncomfortable benches (3, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644061)

I don't understandy why, either - care to elaborate? What is wrong with society when it tries to make sure public stuff is used for the intended purpose?

What drug use and prostitutes? (2)

sckeener (137243) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643655)

From the article the issue was keeping the self-cleaning toilets clean...they got clogged with trash.

The drug use and prostitution bit was a worry in the original article when they were being installed.

Re:What drug use and prostitutes? (1)

nbert (785663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643947)

How did you get that impression?

"But the city canceled its contract this spring after the commodes became filthy hide-outs for drug use and prostitution."

New tag line (5, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643711)

Slashdot - news of turds, stuff that splatters.

This is such an anti-Republican move (2, Funny)

seyyah (986027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643733)

I mean, where are good honest Republicans like our men Larry Craig [wikipedia.org] and Bob Allen [wikipedia.org] going to go for a little dick?

Prostitution in public toilets (3, Funny)

FornaxChemica (968594) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643735)

Does that mean they just had sex there or that the ladies were actually soliciting the clients from inside the toilet room? And most important of all, were they dubbed "high-tech prostitutes" as a result? I wonder if there's any geek among the old profession who will be kind enough to provide the technical details...

developing world shits on seattle (1)

aeiah (937509) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643875)

the best toilet facilities ive ever seen were in El Alto, Bolivia (the really fast sprawlling city of breezeblock and redbrick that the poorer native bolivians live in above the country's capital capital, La Paz). every shop, cafe, doorstep market stall and telephone centre has a toilet you can use for pocket change. its a nice little earner on the side after all. there's more signs for toilets than anything else in that place. but anyway. are these seattle ones somehow different to the cylindrical cubicles (does that even make sense?) that i can pay 20p to use here in the uk, that shower themselves down when you step out? surely there's more to them than this, although quite why they didnt go with a few of these is confusing.

Re:developing world shits on seattle (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644043)

Lot of places in America have laws against pay toilets, so the "I am willing to pay to use a nice toilet" thing doesn't fly here. The closest thing you can do is try to limit your facilities to paying customers (assuming you're a business) but obviously this doesn't fly if you're a city.

that's what starbucks is for (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#24643909)

and seattle, the home of starbucks, should have known that

i'm dead serious. i live in midtown manhattan, and finding a toilet for a tourist, nevermind a resident, is near impossible were it not for a certain chain of coffee shops that monopolize every street corner. and they always have a restroom (unless they are those tiny stores), and those restrooms are open to the public without fail. there are some starbucks nearby subway entrances where if you go sit, you'll notice there is a regular stream of visitors... to the commode, and no one even pretends to want to buy a coffee

you really have to understand what a blessing this is. it really is unique to starbucks: every other establishment, including mcdonalds and other fast food places, are usually hostile to making its restrooms available. but i guess coffee chases away vagrants, as the unstable and stinky always seem to congregate to mcdonalds for their restroom needs, bothering the grumbling manager behind the counter for a key rather than shuffling a few more steps around the corner to go to a keyless starbucks restroom. why the homeless do this, i don't know, but that is 100% true. habit? familiarity?

i used to think the city made starbucks keep their restrooms open for this very reason, as it is such a huge boon in convenience for midtown visitors, workers, and residents. or perhaps a marketing droid at starbucks headquarters noticed a correlation between sales and restroom availability? who knows, but for a non-new york city resident, it is hard to understand what a blessing starbucks restrooms have been for the city

whatever the reason for the mana from heaven of bum-free starbucks commodes in midtown, i'd like to thank starbucks with my very own original marketing slogan, they can use it free of charge:

"if you are thinking of something steaming and brown, think starbucks in midtown" ;-)

Heroin (Hair-0N) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24644033)

A drug in Seattle that was popular in high tech toilet parlors. Portland is bad enough.

Cannot...resist....pun (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24644285)

So would you say that the toilets where a SHITTY idea?

*ducks to avoid tomatoes

Please, no pineapples!
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