Leonard looks to make city money in loo sales

PORTLAND, Ore. - City Commissioner Randy Leonard has big plans to sell Portland Loos to other cities and use the profits to build more of them for Portlanders.

The city owns the patent to the Portland Loo and already has sold one toilet to Victoria, British Columbia. Leonard wants to sell a lot more, and to make it more enticing, he's asking the City Council to offer contractors a 10-percent sales commission.

The Portland Loos are made in Northwest Portland and can be shipped in parts. They're the result of Leonard's unsuccessful search to find an attractive outdoor toilet at a low cost and be better than chaining a Porta Potty to a light post. There are now five functioning in downtown Portland.

The loos are designed to be convenient but not too comfortable so people don't stay inside too long.

Leonard wants other cities to try the public toilet out for a price.

"What we're trying to do is sell enough that we can pay for the costs of the upkeep of the ones we have and to build new ones for ourselves," he said.

The city markets the Loo as cheaper than building an enclosed restroom and easier to install and maintain.

So far, San Diego, Calif. and Anchorage, Alaska have expressed some interest, but they haven't said yes to the sales price, which is more than $90,000.

"As a taxpayer I like the idea of having some revenue come back to the city, which lowers all of our tax rates," said Ed Rockower, who lives in Portland.

The city isn't risking any money because the toilets won't be made unless there's already a buyer in place. But the question is should local government be making a profit selling a product?

"We designed a unique product that's not available anywhere else, and I guess the reverse of that question would be, would it be fair to say to other cities, who are running into a similar dilemma, 'no, you can't buy our restroom.' That didn't make sense to me," Leonard said.

The Loos are expected to make the city about $30,000 in profit for each toilet sold.