Hepatitis Scare Prompts LA Council To Proceed With Portable Bathroom System

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The potential of a hepatitis outbreak in Los Angeles has prompted the city council to approve a plan to establish a system of portable bathrooms around the city, with Skid Row being of particular interest.

The motion introduced by Councilmember Mike Bonin was approved 11-0 Friday.

It comes days after activists tried to deliver toilets to Mayor Eric Garcetti and occupied bathrooms inside City Hall, all in an attempt to bring awareness to the lack of lavatories on Skid Row.

“Without access to the basic right of a restroom,” the motion reads, “people living on the streets are at a significantly increased risk of contracting diseases like hepatitis A that are spread through human feces.

Last month, the county public health department declared an outbreak of hepatitis A in which several cases could not be traced to San Diego or Santa Cruz, cities that saw the disease spread among their homeless populations.

San Diego declared a public health emergency in September after 18 people died of the disease. Gov. Jerry Brown followed suit, declaring a state of emergency in California to combat the illness earlier this month.

The motion also seeks possible sources of funding for the program, that the bathrooms be operated by attendants, and directs the city attorney to decide if and how the bathrooms will be lawfully placed on city property.

The motion asks staff to look at San Francisco’s “Pit Stop” program for guidance, a joint effort between the city and region’s transit agency, which resulted in portable toilets being placed at 17 public locations.

Hepatitis A is a potentially deadly liver disease that can easily spread in unsanitary conditions like the ones found on Skid Row.

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