Tag Archives: Public Urination

LAMC 41.47.1: This Seemingly Unknown Municipal Bathroom Law Could Change the Whole Public Urination Discussion in Los Angeles, but it has Never Been Used

These signs are hanging all over the City of Los Angeles, and it turns out that they're completely unenforceable.
These signs are hanging all over the City of Los Angeles, and it turns out that they’re completely unenforceable.

Arrests for public urination/defecation are a fundamental tool in the war against homeless people in Los Angeles, as well as being a major part of the BID Patrol’s work in Hollywood. In 2015, for instance, the BID’s data shows that about 8%1 of the arrests that Andrews International made across the two HPOA BIDs2 were for public urination/defecation, which is a violation of LAMC 41.47.2.

When the City Council passed LAMC 41.47.2 in 2003, they were roundly (and rightly) criticized by advocates for the rights of homeless people, who pointed out that it was inhumane to criminalize an activity that is necessary to sustain life without providing a practical alternative. My colleagues have written before about how Councilmembers responded to this by promising informally that it wouldn’t be enforced if there were no nearby public restrooms and by promising to install more public restrooms around the City. However, they failed to amend the actual statute, which has led to widespread abuse.3 And 13 years later there aren’t significantly more public restrooms.

However, there is another part of the public urination law, LAMC 41.47.1, which is never even mentioned in discussions of the issue, and yet it is not only relevant, but radically, transformatively relevant. It was adopted by the Council in 1988 and says:

If restroom facilities are made available for the public, clients, or employees, no person owning, controlling, or having charge of such accommodation or facility shall prohibit or prevent the use of such restroom facilities by a person with a physical handicap, regardless of whether that person is a customer, client, employee, or paid entrant to the accommodation or facility. Employee restrooms need not be made available if there are other restroom facilities available on the premises unless employee restroom facilities have been constructed or altered to accommodate the physically handicapped and such facilities are not available elsewhere on the premises.

This has the potential to change the entire conversation about public restrooms, public urination, and homelessness in Los Angeles.
Continue reading LAMC 41.47.1: This Seemingly Unknown Municipal Bathroom Law Could Change the Whole Public Urination Discussion in Los Angeles, but it has Never Been Used

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Analysis of Public Urination Arrest Reports Reveals BID Patrol Ignorance of Meaning of Word “Public,” Illuminates Importance of Rule of Law in a Free Society

Public urine in Hollywood belongs in a public restroom.  But what counts as public?
Public urine in Hollywood belongs in a public restroom. But what counts as public?
While poking around BID Patrol arrest reports recently obtained from the HPOA by our faithful correspondent, we noticed a weird, repetitive quirk in the ones relating to LAMC 41.47.2, which forbids public urination. The arresting security guards uniformly either ask their victim if he or she knew of the existence of public restrooms close by or else they note in their report that there were public restrooms close by. Now, whenever one finds this kind of textual consistency in police reports it’s possible to be sure of two things. First, there’s some element of the crime that they’re trying to make sure is definitely established. Second, that they’re probably lying. In this case, it was hard to see what element might be related to the proximity of public restrooms. The law doesn’t mention them, and is not subtle in the least:

No person shall urinate or defecate in or upon any public street, sidewalk, alley, plaza, beach, park, public building or other publicly maintained facility or place, or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view, except when using a urinal, toilet or commode located in a restroom, or when using a portable or temporary toilet or other facility designed for the sanitary disposal of human waste and which is enclosed from public view.

But a little googling revealed the explanation, among other interesting things. First, public urination wasn’t against the law in the city of Los Angeles until 2003. We’re guessing that there was no pressing need to make it so because vagrancy laws could be used against public urinators as desired until they were definitively destroyed in 1983.1 So maybe outlawing public urination wasn’t as urgent as, e.g., squashing drinking beer in the park (which was outlawed in LA only in 1983) and also, the LA Times suggested that previously public urinators were charged with littering, but that the City Attorney decided that that was bogus. In any case, the Council file on the matter shows, surprisingly, that it took more than four years to get the prohibition passed into law. There doesn’t seem to have been any public discussion of the matter before it passed, either, although it may be just that the online materials from that long ago are fragmentary.

Second, the LA Times article quoted the objections of members of the Los Angeles Community Action Network and other homeless advocates to a law which criminalized essential bodily functions of the homeless, and in response, after the law was passed, according to the Times, “Council members pledged that people would be prosecuted only in cases when there is a public toilet nearby that they failed to use.” So this is why, no doubt, the BID Patrol feels that it has to note the locations of nearby “public” restrooms in its arrest reports. Their weirdo interpretation of the meaning of “public” also shows why it’s necessary to put things like the “public restrooms available” pledge in the law itself. Actually, once the law is passed, it doesn’t matter what Councilmembers say they meant it to mean, it only matters what it says. This is how the rule of law works in a free society. Also, isn’t it very suspicious but unfortunately not surprising that they put the fuzzy-wuzzy warmsy-hugsy interpretation of the law in the paper but not in the statute books?

And that’s not the worst thing about this nonsense. Even if the City Council intended the law to be enforced this way, even if the freaking Mayor ordered the LAPD only to enforce the law this way, none of that would reign in the BID Patrol. They are essentially beyond the control of public policy and beholden only to the written letter of the law.2 As we’ve discussed before, according to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, if a citizen’s arrest is made, the LAPD must accept custody of the arrestee even if the arrest was made contrary to public policy.

We look at some specific examples after the break, and also provide links to all mentions of the words “public” and “restroom” in both the 2007 and the 2013 BID Patrol arrest reports so you can see for yourself what’s going on.
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Retraction: Documents Attesting to More than a Decade of Tragically Futile HPOA Support for Public Toilets in Hollywood Show Conclusively that City of Los Angeles is 100% to Blame for their Lack

Screenshot of LA City Approval for a public toilet at Hollywood Blvd and Orange Drive.
Screenshot of LA City Approval for a public toilet at Hollywood Blvd and Orange Drive.
Well, long-time readers of this blog will recall a number of shrill screeds on our part about how the BID Patrol keeps arresting people for public urination but the HPOA doesn’t do anything to get public toilets installed. And aren’t we embarrassed now. We had assumed that the HPOA had so much political juice that they could get anything they wanted out of the city, so the fact that Hollywood has no public toilets, we wrongly assumed, was proof that the HPOA was opposed to them.

It turns out that we were dead wrong about that. The HPOA has been trying for over a decade to get the city to put public toilets around Hollywood without any success. Just mere moments ago our faithful correspondent received documents that demonstrate this in great detail, and we apologize for our hasty leaping at conclusions. You can browse through the documents via the new Public Toilets subdirectory of the HPOA directory in the menu structure above.
Continue reading Retraction: Documents Attesting to More than a Decade of Tragically Futile HPOA Support for Public Toilets in Hollywood Show Conclusively that City of Los Angeles is 100% to Blame for their Lack

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BID Bike Bullies Bathroom Break Battle! Media District “Safety” Officers Incompetence, Rage, Endanger Public, Demonstrate Irony of Urination Regulation

Rage filled Media District bike bullies screaming in public on October 3, 2014.  We have no evidence that any of these boys are the same as the ones discussed in this story.  On the other hand, we have no evidence that they're not, because Captain John Irigoyen refused to release the names of the officers pictured here.
Rage filled Media District bike bullies screaming in public and wearing super-creepy cop sunglasses on October 3, 2014 on Santa Monica Blvd. We have no evidence that either of these boys is the same as any of those discussed in this story. On the other hand, we have no evidence that they’re not, because Captain John Irigoyen refused to release the names of the officers pictured here.
What are all those green-shirted thugs on bikes up to over in the Hollywood Media District? Well, if you ask their overlords, their “activities are designed to respond to needs that in some areas are based primarily on perception, and in other areas based on the reality of crime and intimidating street populations.”

Now, we could expend many an electron on the exegesis of this blather, but it’s far off today’s subject, so we’ll just briefly restate: They’re out there to look good and to chase off people who scare rich white people. But what is anyone do to when they themselves are part of the “intimidating street populations?” Read on for details!
Continue reading BID Bike Bullies Bathroom Break Battle! Media District “Safety” Officers Incompetence, Rage, Endanger Public, Demonstrate Irony of Urination Regulation

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Hollywood Farmers’ Market Patrons Can Even Wash Hands After Not Shitting In Public Street

Not only are porta-potties provided for patrons of the Hollywood Farmers' Market, two portable hand-washing fountains are provided as well.  But, as Lady Macbeth knew too well, some things don't wash off so easy.
Not only are porta-potties provided for patrons of the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, two portable hand-washing fountains are provided as well. But, as Lady Macbeth knew too well, some things don’t wash off so easy.
We’ve written before about the shameless hypocrisy of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, whose bully-boy BID patrol agents arrest homeless people on a regular basis for relieving themselves on the public street.

We’ve argued that the HPOA consciously chooses to deprive the homeless of access to bathrooms, and is thus culpable for the broken lives and pain caused by the collateral consequences of these hundreds of arrests over the years. We’ve discussed the fact that the HPOA not only sets these people up for arrest by not having public restrooms available and then compounds their crime by arresting them, but they also mock them for the fact that they’re forced to shit in the streets.

Lady Macbeth discovering that water isn't always enough to wash away sins from the hands that committed them.
Lady Macbeth discovering that water isn’t always enough to wash away sins from the hands that committed them.

Anyway, this morning, we noticed, strolling through the pleasant environs of Ivar and Selma, that not only are there porta-potties provided for the rich folk who shop at the Market, but there are even portable hand-washing stations, shown in the images above. We expect the porta-potties. That’s an expected level of hypocrisy. And we do appreciate hand-washing, both in ourselves and in others. We expect that the BID Patrol will arrest homeless people for sitting on the sidewalk but not even warn Farmers’ Market patrons for violating the same law.
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A Pot to Piss In

NOTE (December 2015): Please read this retraction to provide context to this post. We remain right about many of the issues discussed, but we were dead wrong about the BID’s opposition to public toilets. They support them.

A public urinal in Paris, France c. 1865
A public urinal in Paris, France c. 1865
The Hollywood Property Owners Alliance is really, really, really opposed to people pissing on the streets of Hollywood. They’re so opposed that in 2013 they spent over $132,000 to combat it, at approximately $1500 per pissing incident.1 Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. It’s safe to assume that the HPOA BIDs have their hearts dead set against public pissing.

But why are all these people pissing in the streets?
Continue reading A Pot to Piss In

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