Mesa businessman Bob Curtis applauds Mesa’s new Operation Off the Streets program to help the homeless, but says it doesn’t help him with a critical problem involving transients who live on the streets.
Bob Curtis, president of Rieth Auto CARQUEST Auto Parts, wants public restrooms at the end of Mesa’s Metro Light Rail line at Gilbert Road and Main Street, near his store.
The lack of a public restroom has left Curtis desperate to stop the homeless from exposing themselves to his wife and urinating on her car. He also has watched them defecate in his parking lot.
He said he allowed the homeless to use his restroom for a while but that backfired when they trashed it.
“This end of the street has become a toilet,’’ Curtis said. “This has been going on since Day 1.’’
Deputy City Manager Natalie Lewis said she would look into the restroom issue but she couldn’t promise a restroom. She said the issue is more complicated than it sounds because public restrooms make for “attractive nuisances’’ for other crimes, such as drug dealing and even sexual assault.
But Lewis said police will look at the area as a potential hot spot where they would reach out to the homeless and offer them a choice between a motel room, with an opportunity to access services designed to address the root causes of homelessness, or getting arrested.
Curtis is glad Mesa is focusing on the homeless problem and appreciates any help he receives, but he is skeptical about whether the effort will have a long-lasting impact.
He said that longtime Mesa police Detective John Fitzgerald has already visited him and advised him to “call, call, call’’ if he sees homeless on his property.
“I think it’s irresponsible on their part,’’ he said, to not provide a restroom at the end of the line. “To me, this is a public health hazard.’’
Susan Tierney, a Valley Metro light rail spokeswoman, said her agency has always had a policy against operating restrooms because they create maintenance and safety issues.
She said the restrooms at the Sycamore station in west Mesa and the Tempe Transportation Center – the only two public facilities in the East Valley – are maintained by the respective cities.
Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who now heads Valley Metro, intervened to get the Sycamore restrooms installed. Sycamore was Mesas’ first end of the line station, before Metro was extended to Mesa Drive and eventually to Gilbert Road.