County’s clean restroom ordinance gets an update
by Andrew Cauthen
originally published by The Champion FreePress, November 20, 2015
A year-old DeKalb County law requiring public restrooms to be kept clean received an update Nov. 10.
The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 10 in favor of renewing and strengthening its restroom ordinance.
Commissioners Stan Watson and Kathie Gannon worked with a 10-person county task force led by Dale Phillips, director of the county’s human development department, to craft a more effective ordinance, which clarifies enforcement provisions relating to restrooms in bad repair.
The stated purpose of the ordinance is to regulate restroom facilities “to prevent the nuisance of public restrooms by prohibiting the existence of such restrooms in a state of bad repair and to promote the maintenance and availability of properly functioning restrooms.”
As provided by the update, businesses, stores, offices, DeKalb County buildings and parks are required to keep restrooms in adequate sanitary conditions. Residents may report violations to code enforce- ment officers who can issue warn- ings or ultimately fine violators.
The revised ordinance also allows the DeKalb County Board of Health to inspect the restrooms closest to the cafeterias in schools.
“During a review by the Board of Health when they go in for their check of the cafeterias, they will also make a check of restrooms closest to the cafeteria,” Phillips said.
“And if there is an issue, they will make a note of it and they will report that of an official of the school and work with code enforcement and the school” to address the problem.
For other restrooms in schools, students or other restroom users can report deficiencies to code enforcement.
“We will make a note of it and code enforcement will take action as well,” Phillips said.
Dr. Tom Keating, founder and coordinator of Project CLEAN-Citizens, Learners and Educators Against Neglect, said he has been working for 21 years on improving school restrooms.
In addition to focusing on restrooms in the DeKalb and Decatur school districts, he has worked with representatives in 20 states, India, Ireland and Germany.
“After 18 years it dawned on me that I should be talking about all kinds of restrooms, because a kid who leaves school goes to a library...a park, recreation center and a swimming pool and a MARTA station,” Keating said.
The DeKalb restroom ordinance is “strengthened and clarified” by the update, Keating said.
“It has clarified the enforcement,” he said. “It has built the capability that we now have to have an education and an awareness...here in the county that sanitation is important.”
Keating said, “For the last year we have had an ordinance that has helped bring about a better quality of life by decreasing the number of restrooms that have been in bad repair.
“This year we have made some improvements on that ordinance and continue to discuss [the issue],” Keating said.
The ordinance update passed one week before World Toilet Day, a day declared by the United Nations to recognize that approximately 2.4 billion people still lack access to a toilet.