All Politics is Local

‘The urinating on chairs was bad enough’

If you thought your job was bad, remember: at least you probably don’t have to deal with peed-on furniture.

The Clark County council on Wednesday revisited a plan to make the Public Service Center at 1300 Franklin Street a limited-use facility. In other words, you can only enter the building if you’re there on county business. The city of Vancouver has a similar policy.

The county originally considered this policy last October, but decided to wait until after the opening of the Friends of the Carpenter day shelter after reactions from critics who feared it would prohibit the homeless from using the restrooms in the building.

Deputy County Manager Bob Stevens said in practice, this isn’t about preventing the homeless from entering the building. There won’t be security guards. The doors won’t be locked. There will only be signs posted alerting people that the county building is for county business only. In practice, if you run in, use the restroom, and leave, you’ll be fine. But as Stevens put it, this is about giving the county “the legal teeth to deal with the trouble makers.” And there are trouble makers.

“We do want to have some way of dealing with some of the problems that we’ve been dealing with all along,” Stevens said.

“I’ve had to have all the furniture removed twice to get it sanitized,” he continued. “Because it had just gotten so disgusting you couldn’t even sit on it.”

Not to leave anything up to the imagination, Deputy Prosecutor Chris Horne recounted a time on the third floor when a group of people somehow managed to get into the ceiling and use it as their own personal storage unit. No one noticed until it started to smell.

“(Custodians) brought out at least 11 large trash bags full of stuff, including bicycle frames, rims, clothes, all kinds of stuff that they were storing in the ceiling and nobody knew about it,” Horne said. “I guess it’s good for ingenuity.”

But wait, there’s more.

“The urinating on chairs was bad enough that we had custodial staff quit,” Horne said.

Yeesh.

And that doesn’t even get into concerns raised by Auditor Greg Kimsey and Assessor Peter Van Nortwick about safety issues in the joint lobby, where Clark County residents are paying their taxes and applying for building permits.

It’s unclear when the council will vote on this issue, but after those appeals, it’d be surprising if this wasn’t approved unanimously. We’ll follow up when that issue returns.

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the Clark County government reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at kaitlin.gillespie@columbian.com or 360-735-4517.

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