A proposal that would trade billboards for toilets will be considered by the council tonight.
The City Council may vote to open a dialogue with the Eller advertisement company for a package deal that would install public toilets in commercial districts and remove several billboards in the city. In return, the advertising company would get a billboard along I-80.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington said he got the idea while attending an Oakland City Council meeting two months ago.
“Berkeley has been talking for years about how to get billboards down in neighborhoods where people don’t like them,” he said. “And about putting public toilets in commercial areas. So the idea is to get this process started and to get some feedback.”
The package originally involved the removal of four of Eller’s billboards and the installation of two Adshel toilets in exchange for a billboard in the I-80 corridor, but Councilmember Linda Maio said the numbers have yet to be worked out.
Adshel, a French company, manufactures toilets much like the public toilets in San Francisco. They cost from $200,000 to $250,000 to install. Maio said the package would also include maintenance at no cost to the city.
Both Maio and Worthington agree that the idea is worth discussing, but aren’t sure about the benefits of implementation.
“I don’t know if this is a good idea,” Maio said. “I think it’s worth talking about. But we want the staff to research it first.”
She said that she didn’t know how much a billboard on I-80 would cost.
If the proposal is not pulled from the consent calendar at tonight’s council meeting, it will go the Office of Economic Development and the Office of the City Manager for closer study.
“To get these benefits, you have to give something to the company,” Worthington said. “(The I-80 billboard) has to be highly visible so we can get the toilets and have the signs removed. It’s a trade and we need to weigh our options carefully.”
cerned about the I-80 billboard’s impact in the community and in the environment.
“Some people are going to resist” he said. “There has already been a strong objection to putting it in Aquatic Park, so we haven’t even thought about putting it there.”
He said that some cities use floating billboards, but was worried about the environmental impact.
“Ideally we would want to put it where it would have as little impact as possible.”
Maio guessed one of the public toilets would go downtown and one could possibly go on Telegraph Avenue, but it would be a “whole community discussion,” she said.