BEND, OR -- Visitors to downtown Bend again have a clean place to "go." The public restrooms in the lobby of the parking garage were closed about a year ago due to a lack of oversight. Downtown Bend Business Association Director Rod Porsche says there were problems with drug use, vandalism and transients camping inside the bathrooms. "The idea that these were closed really put a strain on our downtown businesses. A lot of our retailers are simply not set up – they don’t have ADA compliant restrooms. It wasn’t a big deal for the restaurants and bars; but, during the day, it really impacted our retailers."
In response, the restrooms reopened last month, as a test. "They really needed someone, and that someone turned out to be me and our organization, to be within eyesight of them," says Porsche, who now occupies a small office, nearby [pictured]. "That’s the beauty of this with this second office here in the lobby, I’m literally just steps away from the restroom doors." The DBBA still has its original second floor office on Oregon Ave.
He says it's a unique fix that's paying off. "It’s almost more like a closet, and surrounded by glass windows so we’ve actually taken to calling it ‘The Fishbowl.’ But, it does allow me an opportunity to see people walking by; there’s a directory right out front, so I can jump up and offer directions for folks who are lost. So, I’ve actually enjoyed it; it’s been a pleasant surprise, the kind of contact that I have, as Downtown Director, in terms of being able to offer assistance to folks." He says the restrooms are often the first stop for many of the 3 million tourists that visit downtown Bend each year.
The set-up is temporary, for now. The DBBA will re-evaluate in six months and decide whether to continue its oversight of the restrooms.