City council passes law banning public urination

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Relieve yourself in Pittsburgh's streets or parks and you could face a $500 fine under legislation given final approval by city council today.

Fail to clean up after yourself, and that fine could double.

"We as a municipality do not have a municipal public urination piece," said Councilman Bruce Kraus, who wrote the legislation. That forces police to charge those caught sullying the streets with either disorderly conduct -- which doesn't always hold up in court -- or public lewdness, which can land the defendant on the registry of sex offenders.

Instead, those caught urinating or defecating on or in a "walkway, street, highway, sidewalk, building facade, bridge, overpass, alley or alleyway, plaza, park, driveway, transportation facility, park, recreational area, parking lot, vacant or undeveloped lot or the stairwells, alcoves, doorways and entrance ways to such places" can be cited and fined $500.

They can get an identical, separate fine if they "fail to clean or remove the material deposited immediately" to "a container designed for such disposal."

"At least these people should clean up after themselves, and they don't," said Councilwoman Darlene Harris, who called it "the wee-wee bill."

Councilman Jim Motznik suggested an alternative. "I honestly believe that yourself, other elected officials at the state levels, community group leaders, need to get involved and maybe put some more bathrooms in the South Side," he said to Mr. Kraus, who lives on the South Side, where sidewalk urination is a continuing problem.

"I don't see a solution as port-a-potties on street corners," said Mr. Kraus. Instead, he wants stricter enforcement of rules compelling bars to provide enough bathrooms.

The legislation now goes to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for his signature.


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