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Chicago Stores Cleaning Up

Inner-city gas stations and convenience store kiosks in Chicago would have to provide restroom facilities for men and women under an ordinance given preliminary approval by a City Council committee, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The ordinance is in response to what its sponsors, Aldermen Edward Burke and Isaac Carothers, say is a decreasing number of public restrooms at c-stores.

Although many new c-stores include restrooms, older ones often have none at all or prohibit the public from using them, city Buildings Commissioner Mary Richardson-Lowry said.

"Most of them already have plumbing in the building itself. If they had a room that was formerly a restroom, for instance, and they converted it to storage ? which we know has happened ? then there's less of a cost," Richardson-Lowry said, referring to the cost of installing a washroom.

The commissioner said city departments will work with gas stations that don't have restrooms to get them by the time the ordinance takes effect, a year after its passage, the report said.

Richardson-Lowry has gained national attention with her efforts to require more women's restrooms in Chicago's sports arenas, churches and assembly halls, but she said the gas station ordinance is unrelated.

"We don't typically have the lines at the gas station," she said.

There are 355 gas stations in the city, according to the Revenue Department. Officials said they are unsure how many would need to construct restrooms.

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