Honey Buckets a stopgap measure to homeless problem

The City of Spokane has what it calls a solution to the problem with the city's homeless population leaving trash and human feces on the sides of downtown businesses near the Division Street off-ramp.

By next week three Honey Buckets will be placed underneath Interstate 90, including one near the skate park. The hope is to make this area -- and the people who live there -- more sanitary.

The problem is, every so often, under the overpass, the smell and view is too much to bear; too much and too often by Ed Demarco's standards. Demarco parks under the overpass when he goes to work.

"Every year I see piles of manure, where people go to the bathroom," he said.

Sometimes Demarco pulls into the lot, ready for work, to find someone has done their business near his spot.

Honey Buckets downtown

"That's why I park in the middle. They usually go right here in the corner," he explained.

To help flush out the problem the city will install three Honey Buckets by next week. They'll cost $3,500 to use, clean, and maintain for 13 months. The money comes from revenue made on parking under the overpass and goes towards maintenance of the area.

"It's a significant walking distance for a readily available public restroom," Director of Code Enforcement Heather Trautman said.

Businesses in the vicinity have started to complain about the problem, so the city has scheduled three honey buckets to be dropped off; one near 4th and Browne, another by 4th and Jefferson and a third near 4th and Division.

Some worry it's too close to the freeway for visitors.

"It's an entry point for Spokane so that's a huge negative," Brian Morris said.

Trautman argues the Honey Buckets will clean up the area's look and smell "to make an attractive entrance into our downtown and to the city of Spokane."

Demarco is just happy he won't have to worry about changing his shoes after walking to his car.

"Sanitation-wise, hopefully it would reduced the amount of times people go to the john here in the parking lot," he said.

Trautman said the placement of Honey Buckets under the freeway is a temporary solution. The city is applying for a grant to build a permanent restroom under the freeway and hopefully will have it finished in the next 13 months.