San Diego Police officers have responded to the intersection that’s home to the Portland Loo, 20 percent more often than before the free, 24-hour restroom was installed, data shows.
Installed in January 2015, the Portland Loo located on the north-west corner of Park Blvd and Market Street in San Diego’s East Village is the second and only remaining of its kind in the City. The first, was located near the intersection of 14th and L Streets but was shut down six months after it was installed. San Diego officials said it became a magnet for crime and homelessness.
Now, neighbors say the same issues associated with San Diego’s original Portland Loo, are happening at the one in East Village.
Shelli Evers lives in East Village and is on the homeowners' association board of Park Boulevard East. She says she often sees more than one person leaving the loo at the same time, “often stoned or seemingly under the influence of drugs.”
Evers has lived in East Village since 2009. She says she’s noticed a spike in homelessness since the Portland Loo was installed last year and fears for her safety when she walks her two dogs in the neighborhood. More than once, she says, she’s been stalked by transients loitering by her condo complex.
“It’s terrifying not knowing how strong the person’s commitment is to stalking to me,” she said.
When Evers asked SDPD what she should do to ensure her safety, she says they recommended she walk her dogs with a taser in hand.
The Portland Loo is a real toilet, with running water and better ventilation than port-a-potties. It’s funded through tax dollars, open to the public and free to use.
Using data obtained through the California Public Records Act, NBC 7 Investigates tracked the number of times SDPD officers responded to the intersection where the East Village Portland Loo is located.
Since being installed, the data shows the total number of calls for service have gone up by 20 percent. The number of battery and disturbing the peace with violence reports have almost doubled and the number of psychiatric holds (5150s) have nearly tripled.
Click here or look below to see a comparison of calls for service before the Loo was installed and with it installed.
“It’s the perfect place for drug users to go and shoot up or do whatever they do, and then come around the area and cause problems,” says Chris Sohaey.
Sohaey is a real estate investor who owns property on Park Boulevard and Market Street. He says his tenants complain regularly of seeing feces at their front door.
East Village resident Sarah Watkins told NBC 7 Investigation similar stories. She says the area has become filthy, with defecation and trash. She’s also noticed an increase in crime.
“I’ve seen and reported sexual acts on the streets too,” she said.
Sohaey has complained about the Portland Loo to the City of San Diego, SDPD, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and the Downtown Partnership’s Clean and Safe Program. According the Sohaey, there’s a lot of finger pointing.
“I’ve exhausted almost all of the my efforts in trying,” Sohay said. “I have about a 30 page document of emails that I’ve tried to address with the Mayor.”
NBC 7 Investigates reached out to the SDPD, the City of San Diego and the Clean and Safe Program. None of the agencies responded.
Sohaey, along with Evers and Watkins, say they would like the Portland Loo removed.
As of right now, there is no plan in place to remove it.
This story is part of #HomelessinSD coverage, an initiative by media organizations in San Diego County to raise awareness of homelessness in the region. For more information on the project and to see other stories, click here.