Local News

Potty Parity May Make Its Way to New Public Buildings

Posted March 20, 2007 4:43 p.m. EDT
Updated March 20, 2007 7:13 p.m. EDT

At lunchtime at Mitch's Tavern, there's plenty of good food and drink to go around. But sometimes, that can lead to some long lines at the women’s restroom.

“I don't know if it's discrimination to say that women take up more time in a restroom,” said owner Mitch Hazouri. “I don't know what they're doing, but they take up more time.”

“It's a drag to have to stand in line that long,” said customer Andrea Atkin.

That’s the reason for a new state bill that would require new public buildings or public places undergoing major renovation to have twice as many stalls for women as men.

“There are huge lines of women a lot of times waiting to get in the restroom, and the guys just walk in and out,” said Sen. Janet Cowell, D-Wake. “I stood in a line 50 women deep that took about 35 minutes to get through, and that was the moment I was going to file this bill.”

The State Fairgrounds exhibition space is flush with new johns for Janes. Fair Manager Wesley Wyatt said the new Martin Building has 32 women’s stalls, compared to nine stalls for men.

“What we have done has made sense for us,” Wyatt said.

Hazouri said he understands the motivation behind the legislation.

“Women frequently dictate where one goes out to eat and where one goes for entertainment, so it's good to satisfy them,” he said.

The bill now goes to a Senate committee and then possibly to the full General Assembly later in the year.

If the bill becomes a ladies-room law, Mitch's Tavern would just roll on with its two toilets in the women's restroom. But places planning renovation might have to add stalls for girls, and that could wash away owners’ bottom lines.

“Personally, I think you should just go unisex,” said customer Judy Austin. “Then I don't think it would be a problem at all.”

Several states already have bathroom equity laws, including California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.