PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — This week, the Pensacola City Council will vote whether or not to bring public restrooms to the downtown area.
The city is grappling with a housing crisis and a growing number of people becoming homeless. You’ll often see people sleeping and camping in and around Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on Palafox downtown.
“I think one of the things we’ve seen with urban camping is it just creates a lot of conflict,” Mayor Grover Robinson said.
Robinson wants to see them move to another location.
“A lot of conflict in that corridor of Palafox,” Robinson said. “We’ve had a patron at a restaurant stabbed. We’ve had a police cruiser set on fire. We’ve had a number of things and we’ve had a real advocate and super supporter in our community unfortunately arrested all because of creating conflict.”
Last week, Mike Kimberl was arrested after being accused of cutting a lock off a porta potty which is only unlocked for the Palafox Market on Saturdays. He’s a homeless advocate who often helps feed and take care of the homeless downtown.
“Twice I’ve met with Mike Kimberl and asked him about moving to other locations,” Robinson said.
This week, the city council will discuss building two public restrooms at MLK Plaza. It will cost more than $400,000. If approved, the city will pay for half of it with money from the American Rescue Plan Act. The Downtown Improvement Board will pay the other half. They will vote Thursday night.