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   “Finding a public bathroom in New York City is not easy.”¹

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   To find out one way that NYC was unsuccessful in resolving this problem use the DOOR.

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   [MORE]

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   “No one needed to be told that this was a serious problem,” observed Joan Davidson, a director of a private foundation, the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

   Ms. Davidson was nonetheless surprised at the outpouring of enthusiasm  when, in 1991, the Kaplan Fund put forward a modest proposal to finance a test of six sidewalk toilet kiosks in different sections of the city. The coin-operated toilets would be imported from Paris, where the municipal government provides them for the convenience of residents and tourists. Perfected over years of experience in Paris, these facilities were almost too good to be true. They clean themselves with a shower of water and disinfectant after each use. The doors open auto magically after fifteen minutes so they cannot be used as a place to spend the night. They are small, five-feet in diameter, which means that New York’s crowded sidewalks would not be blocked. And while the City of Paris rents them, they would cost budget-strapped New York nothing: Advertising panels would be added on the outside to pay the freight. City Hall was ready to move. The six-month test, in sites from Harlem down to City Hall would show whether they would work in New York.

   Then came the glitch. Wheelchairs wouldn’t fit inside them. New York’s antidiscrimination law provides that that is illegal to “withhold or deny” from the disabled any access to “public accommodation.” Ann Emerman, the head of the Mayor’s Office of the Disabled, characterized the sidewalk toilet proposal as “discrimination in its purest form.” When the city’s chief lawyer, Victor Kovner, whose credentials as a champion of liberal causes stretch back thirty years, sought a legislative amendment to permit the six-month test, another lobbyist for the disabled accused him of “conspiring to violate the law.” Never mind that he was seeking to amend the law through the democratic process….

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   ¹ Philip K. Howard, The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America (Random House, 1994; 113-114). The post above is cited verbatim.