Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and Council Member Rita Joseph, of Brooklyn, are continuing their quest to bring more bathrooms to the Big Apple, as a means to provide relief to New Yorkers and tourists for when they desperately need to go.
In 2022, the elected officials proposed addressing the city’s toilet drought following the COVID-19 pandemic by opening up public, self-cleaning bathrooms. Now the pair are continuing to stand up for New Yorkers, sponsoring two new bills so others can sit down on the porcelain throne.
The legislation would require the city to develop capital funding for bathroom locations that have been identified, while another piece aims to open A.D.A. accessible bathrooms in publicly owned buildings across the city—a feat that Levine calls an inexpensive way to pave the road back to normalcy.
“We are hoping that these are bathrooms that are already maintained in buildings that are open to the public. These are bathrooms that won’t require significant capital investment,” Levine said.
These bills build upon a law that was passed by the city council last year that requires the city to identify at least one location for a new bathroom in every zip code. According to the Borough President’s office, there are only 1,100 bathrooms currently open to the 8.6 million residents of Gotham, equating to about one bathroom for every 6,000 New Yorkers. This is something that both Joseph and Levine feel is an outrageous lack of potty privilege, with the pair adding that the Big Apple ranks 93 out of the 100 largest cities in the nation for public bathrooms per capita.
For Levine, this is also about rectifying an issue that plagues the city’s most vulnerable, including low-income families and the homeless, while also infringing on basic human rights.
“Access to public bathrooms is an equity issue and an issue of public health. All New Yorkers need to use the restroom, and the fact that it can be so difficult is unacceptable. We need to take steps to improve access for all New Yorkers, and this legislation will push the city toward a future where bathrooms are accessible all across the city,” Levine told amNewYork Metro.
Levine adds that this problem showcases a failure of government on the most basic level affecting social policy. With the two bills being put forward, Levine and Joseph are hoping that it brings much needed relief to New Yorkers.
Both elected officials stressed that these bathrooms are already being maintained in buildings that are open to the public, so it would not require significant capital investments and it will just be an addition to the city’s bathroom stock, particularly bathrooms that are A.D.A compliant.
“I am proud to partner with Borough President Levine once again,” said Council Member Joseph. “By introducing Intros 1076 and 1077 we will bring our city one step closer to ensuring that there is a bathroom in every zip code while also allowing New Yorkers to use public bathrooms in our municipal buildings.”