Pioneer Square merchants fed up with public urination

SEATTLE -- Merchants in Pioneer Square say a public alley is constantly being used as a public toilet, and they're fed up with it.

Now one business owner is vowing to take matters into her own hands, even if that gets her arrested in the process.

As an old-time photo maker, Joanna Urrago often dresses up like a pioneer woman, but that doesn't mean she wants to live like one.

"I imagine it smells a lot like what in the inside of the vestibules in ancient Rome smelled like," she said.

Urrago has tried to stop the bathroom breaks near her business by taking photos of the culprits and adding surveillance cameras, but nothing has deterred them.

"My delivery staff come from the alley and we open the door and we see people taking a dump or peeing and it's very bad," said restaurant owner Otman Bezzaz.

Urrago is planning her own form of civil disobedience to stop the bathroom breaks. She wants to install homemade outhouses. She plans to use her slop bucket to haul away the waste until she's hauled away.

"I'm not putting outhouses in Pioneer Square to solve the problem, I'm putting them in Pioneer Square to hopefully be dragged off in handcuffs and hopefully bring attention to the issue," she said.

It's an issue that was addressed several years ago with a million dollar public toilet that became a haven for drugs and prostitution.

Now the city plans on putting what's called a Portland Loo in the area, but not everyone in Pioneer Square is thrilled about the idea.

"It's right in front of my patio, so my guests that will be eating will look at a public toilet," said restaurant manager Darcy Hansen.

Urrego plans to put out her outhouses on July 4, and the city says the Portland Loo should be installed by the fall.