Shortage of Porta-Potties on Laker parade route leaves some fans uncomfortable [Updated]
With the Lakers less than an hour away from making their debut along the parade route, there was one thing fans seemed more desperate to see than Kobe Bryant: a bathroom.
Three women from the San Fernando Valley dressed as cowgirls because they wanted to stand out. Sisters Valerie and Vanessa Romero and their cousin, Alyssa Gonzalez, wore Daisy Duke shorts, cowboy boots, black leotards and donned huge, gold cowboy hats. The outfits made instant magnets for many male Laker fans -- all clamoring to have their picture taken with them.
Of course, the women couldn't care less. All they wanted was a bathroom.
At least 20 Porta-Potties were set up at the beginning and end of the parade route, but many people had either not spotted them or were in search of shorter lines. Lakers spokesman John Black said the bathrooms were the city's responsibility. The city's sanitation district could not be reached for comment.
Cristina Mendez, 19, said she had walked a few blocks along Figueroa Street without seeing any restrooms. She tried Wing Stop restaurant at Figueroa and 23 streets. But there was a long line and the restroom was only opened to paying customers.
Mendez, a student at Grossmont College in San Diego County, said she was going to keep looking.
"FYI, they should really put some Porta-Potties out here next time," she said.
KNX radio reported that some folks were ducking into alleyways to relieve themselves. One celebrant, identified on Twitter as @BeeRacasa, tweeted "Phew" after she finally found relief at a small cafe.
In front of Staples Center, police in groups of two stood guard in front of LA Live. The No. 1 question they were repeatedly being asked: "Where's the restroom?"
"They're coming up every 15 seconds, every 30 seconds," said Officer Javier Tafoya.
Tafoya and Officer George Montoya were sending people to bathrooms a couple blocks away, though they weren't sure whether it was a restaurant, gas station or portable bathrooms.
Sitting in the front row at the start of the parade route was Palmdale resident Vashawn Hicks, 21, who stood up occasionally shaking his leg because he had to go so bad.
Even though he arrived at 3 a.m. and had been complaining to his friends for hours, Hicks said he wasn't going to move.
"I'm not going to lose my spot," Hicks said. "These are the Lakers we're talking about."
[Updated at 10:30 a.m.: About 10:15 a.m., a Los Angeles sanitation truck dropped off eight portable toilets near a Chevron Station at Figueroa and Washington streets, where a long line of people had formed outside waiting to buy food and use the bathroom.
“There were calls for additional Porta-Potties when we realized there was a need,” said the driver of the truck, who did not want to be identified. “There are more on the way.”
Several people started running toward the Porta-Potties.
"It's so frustrating," said Jackie Berger of Manhattan Beach, who had been waiting in line outside the store for more than an hour.
At Venice Boulevard between Flower and Figueroa streets, a line formed immediately outside two portable toilets.
Leo Martinez, an L.A. city sanitation supervisor, said it quickly became obvious that the 18 commode booths originally requested for Staples Center wouldn't be enough, so the city brought in reinforcements.
"You see last year they had the Coliseum open and that fits 90,000," he said. "This year everybody's in the street."
The city now expects to scatter 40 portable toilets between Staples Center and the Galen Center, the start and end of the parade route. But Martinez said he wasn't sure if that would meet the demand.
"I'm not sure how much is enough," he said, eyeing the huge crowd at Venice and Figueroa.]
-- Esmeralda Bermudez, Sam Allen and Gale Holland
In the video below, Times columnist Sandy Banks says the Lakers celebration needs to be more about city pride and less about police protection.