At their Tuesday meeting, Lawrence city commissioners will take another look at the portable toilets in neighborhoods around Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium.
Lucky for them, they don’t have to keep looking at those toilets all through the football season as many residents of Oread Neighborhood must do.
Just to recap, city officials were asked last year what power the city has to limit where portable toilets can be placed and how long they can remain in residential areas. The request was made in connection with toilets located in residential yards near Memorial Stadium to accommodate people who were parking and tailgating there.
What officials found out was that the city has no laws regulating the aesthetics, duration and location of temporary toilets. Even if neighbors complain, the city’s only recourse would be to pursue the problem through its “environmental code,” which gives the city broad authority “to protect, preserve, upgrade and regulate the environmental quality of industrial, commercial and residential neighborhoods in this city.”
According to city officials, the city has received few complaints about the portable toilets. As some neighbors point out, the toilets are a significant improvement over some of the alternatives, notably people who would otherwise relieve themselves in the bushes. The city could require the toilets to be removed after each game, but that would raise the expense of providing that “service” to tailgaters.
After checking with a number of other cities to see how they regulate portable toilets, city staff members are recommending the commission consider some kind of regulations specifically for portable toilets. That makes sense.
Even if city commissioners decide to allow the toilets to remain on the residential properties through the football season, they still need to create some regulations to make sure that policy isn’t abused. The city needs to at least make sure there is a time limit on the toilet placements, the toilets are properly serviced and there is a process to deal with complaints.
Without such regulations, the city pretty much has to depend on people in the Memorial Stadium neighborhood to use their own judgment concerning the toilet situation. That may work fine in some cases, but the city needs to be prepared for the cases when it doesn’t.