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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 29, 2008 7:42 AM. The previous post in this blog was Dangerous storm blowing toward Portland. The next post in this blog is Portland terrorized. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Guess what doesn't work in snow

Yep.

Comments (33)

At least we can still go in the tram.

"And the northern lights commenced to glow
And she said, with a tear in her eye
Watch out where the huskies go, and dont you eat that yellow snow
Watch out where the huskies go, and dont you eat that yellow snow"

Frank Zappa

A fitting tribute to Randy.....

Name one thing in Portland that DID work during Arctic Blast 2008™.

I bet an earthquake would knock it out of commision too, what poor design to not be able to withstand a once-a-decade snow storm!

If they would have spend an extra $250K to weatherproof it that would have been better?

I think Portland makes stupid decisions sometimes too, but IMO these sorts of "get-off-my-lawn" style posts dilute the rest of your valuble criticism.

Does "deliberately low-tech and cost effective" also mean it did not come with a warranty on the batteries? Is the designer liable? "[R]eplacement batteries have been ordered" . . . by God herself.

Name one thing in Portland that DID work during Arctic Blast 2008™.

http://www.portlandtribune.com/features/story.php?story_id=122975772171631800

"...a once-a-decade snow storm!"

...or what in many parts parts of the country is simply known as "winter."

By the way, it's snowing sideways at my place right now.

Jack,

The Loo has actually worked pretty well during its first 3 weeks in action. There may still be some shakedown glitches to come, but it weathered the storm better than a lot of things and we have learned a few things as well.

During the really cold weather a couple of weeks ago the hydraulic actuator froze. We have replaced it with a pneumatic actuator that is housed in the insulated equipment closet and we don’t expect that to be a problem in the future. Lesson learned.

The solar panels have been doing a great job powering the lights and toilet. But when they get covered with a foot of snow, they can’t recharge the batteries that power the Loo. If we get snow again and don’t or can’t get the panels cleared off in enough time to keep the batteries charged, we will have some spare batteries and a charger. Again, lesson learned. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought we could power it solely via solar, I would have said “No”. So far, it looks like I may be proved wrong and the concept will work.

It should be up and running this afternoon. If you are downtown in the next few days, you should come by and use it. It’s solid, pretty straightforward and should work well and last a long time. As it ages, we will find out what works and what doesn’t so that future versions here in Portland or elsewhere benefit from what we learn with the first one.


David Shaff, Director
Portland Water Bureau

"one thing in Portland that DID work" was my front wheel car with cables. Went everywhere with good driving skills developed from growing up with snow on our rural logging roads.

If solar is the only means of operating the RandyLoos, then what is going to happen when Randy and the rest of council raises the height limit of buildings in Old Town to 150 ft?

No manner where you place the RandyLoos with those heights the solar gain will be curtailed enough that the systems will not work. If you place them with direct south exposure the bulding heights to the east and west will eliminate a good portion of the morning and afternoon solar gain. Proper solar exposure for Portland's latitude of 45 degrees requires an exposure of minimum six hours to perform.

Is this another example of Randy's research like his bio fuel program not being factual, and well researched?

"...a once-a-decade snow storm!"

...or what in many parts parts of the country is simply known as "winter."

Yes, other parts of the country that have budgets allocated for snow removal, equipment purchased and kept maintained, pre-planned snow routes, etc. etc.

I'm just as annoyed at the next person when the entire city shuts down from 2" of snow but as a native of Alaska I deem it a respectable storm for what is bascially a temperate rain forest climate.

The "City That Works" has plenty to improve upon, but bitching about pay toilets that can't handle blizzards just seems silly.

Ah, but Gene, they aren't pay toilets. They're free, homemade toilets cooked up by a city commissioner with no expertise in design or engineering.

"Bitching," as you put it, about silliness is not in itself silly.

This is just the Metro wi-fi deal plus toilet paper.

If Randy was an engineer he would've figured out how to power the high tech toilet with methane gas rather than solar. Of course, a really good engineer would've figured out how to avoid the use of electrical power in that application.

A toilet designed for homeless people and drug addicts needs to be as robust as an anvil in a sandbox.

UPS isn't working either. Anyone have Christmas packages still to be delivered? Postal Service managed to deliver.

I can't be sure but from the Trib photo it looks like the top of the loo, where the solar panels presumably are located, is flat. The solar panels on the "Smart" Meters are angled, so that any snow accumulation would eventually slide off. So the problem with the loo may not just be caused by the weather, but a design flaw.

oh the solar panels on the meters are sloped , but fixed , so that if you put them on 4 sides of a block only 1/4 will actually work....as I like to say 'the city that works...
u over'

"Yes, other parts of the country that have budgets allocated for snow removal, equipment purchased and kept maintained, pre-planned snow routes, etc. etc."

But that still doesn't explain why I can be driving 55 mph down a perfectly clear highway and come up on an Oregonian who's driving 25 because there's snow on the side of the road!

It's just semi-frozen water, people. It's not an alien life form sent down to destroy all life (and technology) as we know it.

Jerry: ....what is going to happen when Randy and the rest of council raises the height limit of buildings in Old Town to 150 ft?

I believe I just got an idea on how to effectively fight FAR's being excessively raised or transferred near the waterfront.

You go Randy. Let's get those loos in place.

You go John. Wouldn't it be delightful if RandyLoos was the deciding factor on heights and FAR's in OldTown/ChinaTown. Better yet, if Randy lead the argument.

Come on Randy, bite. Remember, Solar is as much as an alternative as Bio.

I remember the days(15 years ago,plus or minus)when solar regulations existed and enforced happily by Leonard's own Building Department.

Solar angles had to be calculated to determine there impact on neighboring properties; height limits were established to insure solar access; setbacks were calculated for solar access; vegetation plan was required to benefit solar; our Willamette Greenway regulations acknowledged solar benefits with stepdown/FAR/height regulations to the waterfront with views/daylight in mind as well as solar.

Ah, those were the days. And now we think we are being so Green when we had planners and builders in the past that practiced this common sense.

i'm tired of a city government that consists of several ponies each taking turns doing a trick. look, a free toilet! look, a bridge reused as a bike path--whoops! look, a tram! look, 10,000 biotech jobs--whoops! look, a booth at the Chicago green building thingy!

and so on.

If the solar panels are "required" to allow the crappers to work, shouldn't some steps be taken to ensure that the panels remain snow free? I wouldn't think it would be too hard to have some kind of heat grid on the panel that activates during a snow storm.

If they had just ran a line to the existing power grid as a back up for the *cough* few *cough* time the solar power failed. This whole mess could have been avoided, even I dare say it could have been put forth as a positive. Randy's Loo could have come out of its first real test on a good note, but they likely never even thought of using the power grid.( not being green and all)

As it ages, we will find out what works and what doesn’t so that future versions here in Portland or elsewhere benefit from what we learn with the first one.

Ask Seattle. I think they may have the answer for you.


> "Bitching," as you put it, about
> silliness is not in itself silly.

If the silliness is silly, then by the transitive property any time spent discussing the silliness is also silly.

Seriously though, I won't argue with you about the resources spent on these restrooms, it's just the snow-snark that seemed petty to me.

> This is just the Metro wi-fi deal plus
> toilet paper.

At least I can get some use out of this deal, it's hard to relive myself on those MetroFi nodes.

And I hate to bring this up again, but please say you *do* realize that the city didn't pay to build the MetroFi network? You love to use that as ammo but like potties in the snow, it's another dud.

Gene, as I've told you a hundred times, we spent a couple of years' worth of the salary of a city employee named Logan Kleier on the MetroFi stupidness. We are also going to have to pay some city employee to take down the existing antennas that MetroFi was too bankrupt to remove from our poles.

The city should have given a grant to Personal Telco, although maybe those people are too argumentative to deal with...

And I hate to bring this up again, but please say you *do* realize that the city didn't pay to build the MetroFi network?

Not true. in fact, the city paid $250,000 to help launch the project. MetroFi asked for several million more to expand the project. now, the city may still be stuck with the bill to dismantle the network hardware (sources disagree whether or not this is resolved.)

so, I'd say calling the Leonard-Loo "MetroFi plus toilet paper" is not only fair, it's accurate. and kinda funny.

I guess the real proof of the worth of the Portland Loo will be how it works when the weather is fine and the only issue is the constant poo & pee that it will have to handle.

I admit I didn't see the process that led up to the Portland Loos but does anybody know if other options were explored before designing, building and propping up the two in operation?

Did anyone look at making deals with downtown businesses or - better - parking garages - to create new restrooms indoors and utilize existing power grids and plumbing? Seems like that would have been a win-win situation and less expensive.

I still think that, in some cases, hiring attendants for a larger facility downtown might have even created a few low-paying jobs for the umemployed and solved the "inappropriate use" problem.

I don't for a minute believe that the louvers on the loo will solve drug dealing or sex games activity during off hours. The second party could stand on the toilet seat, their feet invisible from outside, or someone could leave product somewhere in the loo and someone else follow and retrieve it. Only one person in the potty for that to happen.

I get the same sort of feeling I have when I look at the streetcar which gets prospective customers to the doors of downtown merchants for free but then requires riders to pay to ride to NW 21st/23rd. The word is that, in addition, 23rd is looking at parking meters in 2009.

The whole streetcar route should be fareless or trips on the whole streetcar route should be payable. That would also help Good Sam's parking problems. It's impossible to monitor otherwise without a fare inspector on every car 24/7 and it puts the NW area merchants at a disadvantage, not to mention tourists who might spread their money around.

I was interested to note that, during the worst of the weather, people at the stop on NW 23rd and Northrup were telling visitors that the buses cost to ride but that "the streetcar is free." So even when it costs to ride the upper part of the streetcar line, many people haven't got the word yet.

What a mess.

I'll add that it seems insane that Fareless Square extends to the Lloyd Center but not to the streetcar loop through NW 23rd and back.

There must have been one heck of a lobbist working for the Lloyd merchants.

The Personal Telco Project is a grass-roots all-volunteer educational 501(c)(3) non-profit that is dedicated to helping people to share their internet connections with their community. We do it ourselves. We do it legally. We do it for free. Consider helping us to do it. You can donate your time, your money, and/or your tubes. Thanks.


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