On July 13, Izean Rim Jr. walked down the aisle toward the dais to address the San Diego City Council.
Rim, a homeless man, knows the trek well. He often appears at council meetings advocating for homeless shelters and, as at Tuesday's meeting, to inform councilmembers that their promises to help fund public toilets for downtown's growing homeless population, which is estimated at 8500 people, remain unfulfilled.
In 2008, San Diego resident David Ross, also known as “the Water Man,” teamed up with a few other homeless advocates and installed two Porta Potties, one at God's Extended Hand Mission, the other in East Village. Ross, through his pension and some private donations, has paid for emptying and maintaining the portable johns.
At Tuesday's meeting, Rim informed councilmember Kevin Faulconer, whose district includes downtown, that the Water Man has flushed his hopes of receiving the funding that he believed Faulconer had pledged.
“Water Man has been coming to you for several weeks, maybe several months, asking...for support so he can continue [funding] of the Porta Potties,” said Rim.
“Mr. Water Man told me to [tell] you that he no longer can support these Porta Potties out of his pension he gets. He will no longer confront you on this. You told him you would support him. He hasn't gotten any support.... You have failed him.”
“Many of us, including myself,” responded Faulconer, “have offered to help with infrastructure funds to keep those Porta Potties existing where they are.”
The councilmember representing District 2 said he signed a City memorandum in May of this year requesting that funds be distributed for the temporary johns.
“It came to my attention yesterday that that money is still hung up. That is unsatisfactory to me and to my other colleagues.” A new city council policy, said Faulconer, is to blame for the backup of funds.
The city council is waiting for the Centre City Development Corporation to respond to a request for additional funds for more permanent public facilities to be built in downtown and surrounding areas. The response is expected by October of this year.