As seen in The Seattle Times.

In a recent report, Seattle Public Utilities recommended removing the automated public toilets that were intended to give tourists and many of the city's homeless people clean, decent bathrooms.

The five self-cleaning public toilets, which opened in 2004, are located in Victor Steinbrueck Park, Waterfront Park, Occidental Park, Hing Hay Park and at 1801 Broadway.

The report maintains that the toilets have been well used for their intended purpose, but also used for drugs and prostitution.

Canceling the contract at the beginning of 2009 would save the city about $4.5 million over five years. The city would have to pay the provider $500,000 to end the contract early, and spend about $250,000 to restore the sites.

A City Council vote is required to remove the toilets.

"It's time to pull the plug and look at other options," said City Councilmember Sally Clark, who called the toilets an "expensive experiment" at a news conference in Hing Hay Park. "Although they are not the cause of problems in the neighborhood, they are contributing to problems. They give people a place to hide out, to duck out of public sight."

Because of the public-safety issues, people looking for clean, safe toilets are not using them, she said.

The toilets are now cleaned twice a day by staff and locked at night.

Seattle Public Utilities says it would find partners to offer staffed public restrooms nearby.