‘Potty parity’ is relief for men and women
The city's new building code requires that event facilities have twice as many women's restroom stalls as men's stalls.
WITHOUT a dissent in the City Council and with Mayor Hannemann's signature, Honolulu is the most recent city to adopt what is called "potty parity" of restrooms in buildings that host events. The change in building codes is aimed at creating a roughly 2-1 ratio of women's restroom stalls to men's stalls. The sponsor, Councilman Charles Djou, should go to the front of the line.
The City Council in New York City was among the pioneers of the latest milestone in women's rights, approving the Women's Restroom Equity Bill last May. It revised a 1984 law that merely required one women's restroom for every men's restroom. The law applies to new and renovated arenas, auditoriums, drinking places, meeting halls, theaters, public dance halls and stadiums.
With the same unanimity, Honolulu's City Council adopted the change last month to require a similar ratio in Oahu's new or revamped event facilities. The fact that women's needs take them twice as long to answer nature's call is well established. Djou says 20 cities in 15 states have similar building code requirements.
"It's one of those things that's a good idea," he told the Christian Science Monitor. "It's not going to solve our crime or homelessness problems, but it's a small, simple idea that's going to improve quality of life for people."
Honolulu's new requirement is modeled after building standards recommended by the International Codes Council and should be adopted in more cities across the country. Potty parity is likely to draw more widespread attention in September at the World Toilet Summit in Moscow (www.americanrestroom.org).
As demonstrated by the council votes in Honolulu and New York, men have no qualms about the requirement, but masculine support does not necessarily translate as enlightenment.
"No," said New York Councilwoman Yvette Clarke, who pushed the measure, "it's because men have to wait for women when women wait on line to use restrooms."
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