Jersey City residents may not have to “just hold it” when they pass a portable toilet in the future.
The City Council introduced an ordinance Wednesday that will establish maintenance and cleaning standards for portable lavatories, flushing away unkempt porta-johns around the city.
The legislation would require portale toilets to be cleaned at least once a week, including the removal of waste from toilets, deodorizing and sanitizing the interior, as well as restocking hand soaps, sanitizers and hand towels.
Council President Joyce Watterman said residents who live near Berry Lane Park complained about a porta-john in the park that was filthy. She said the city had to track down the company that owns the portable toilet to get it cleaned.
Watterman said due to COVID-19 restrictions that closed some public bathrooms, porta-johns should not currently be in parks.
“People were constantly using it and it was filthy,” Watterman said.
“I just want to make sure after the (COVID-19 restrictions are lifted), whoever (owns or rents) a port-a-potty will be responsible to keep it clean and its maintenance because that has been a problem.”
The ordinance would also require the name, address and telephone number of the person responsible for maintenance to be placed on the door, with the date on which it was last cleaned.
While the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations set standards for portable toilets at construction sites, there are no standards set for portable toilets in parks, playgrounds and outdoor entertainment venues.
Jerome Choice, a park advocate and member of the Friends of Berry Lane Park, said the porta-john that spurred the legislation should have be cleaned on a regular basis. He noted that permanent bathrooms are currently under construction in the park, which opened in 2016.
“We asked for bathrooms to put in there because it is a park that has several recreational fields and with that you have teams coming in,” Choice said. “We have always advocated for them to put in the (bathroom).”
Watterman said this porta-john was placed in the park by mistake by a company in New York. The porta-john has since been removed, she added.
“Everybody’s experience with a port-a-potty has always been gross,” Watterman said. “It should be written on the door how often the maintenance was. You should have some type of schedule when the port-a-potty was clean.”
The ordinance is expected to get a second reading on Oct. 17.