That moment when you realize that you’ve just purchased Ypsilanti’s most popular public restroom


We’ve known for quite a while that people piss against our building. It’s painfully obvious on hot summer days like this. If you attempt to enter the building from the back, you have no choice but to navigate through a low-hanging cloud of excited urine molecules anxious to take a trip up your nose to the part of your brain whose job it is to make you want to vomit on yourself.

I’d like to be mad, but, to be honest, it’s actually a nice place to take a piss. Aside from the late night prostitution, it’s a quiet, peaceful alley, and, given how the door is recessed, it’s relatively private.

Given all of the liquor bottles we find there, I’d just assumed that most of the pissing happened late at night, as people drank in the alley before heading in to see the strippers next door. [I have it on good authority that Deja Vu just serves juice boxes.] But, over this weekend, we got to know some of the urinators, and they’re not who you might think. A few days ago, Jesse left the building in the later afternoon and was nearly pissed on by an older fellow, who, as if to explain himself, said something like, “This is an old school piss spot,” as Jesse swung his leg back into the building to keep from getting sprayed. And, this afternoon, I just happened to stick my head out of an upstairs window and see two gentlemen conducting some kind of transaction while I female associate of theirs squatted down and pissed against the building directly below me. So it’s not just a late night thing. It’s an all day, every day, kind of thing.

Oh, and it’s not just piss. Today I got to remove a small, shit-covered vodka bottle, and an old paper bag that had been used as toilet paper. [I think the person in question probably pooped on the bottle, but I suppose it’s possible that the bottle had been inserted like a cork until such time that the individual in question could get to his or her favorite outdoor pooping spot.]

I don’t mind the condoms and the liquor bottles, but I really don’t like walking through shit and piss every day, and I’m wondering if any of you might have an idea as to how we politely suggest to folks that they look for a “new school” piss spot. The easy thing to do, I guess, would be to put up a camera. I’d rather not resort to that, though. I’m thinking, instead, we could post directions to better spots, and maybe even outfit these other spots with things like toilet paper and proper piss buckets. Maybe even put out a few magazines….

In all seriousness, though, I know there’s a bathroom at the transit station across the street, but is there a need downtown for a freestanding public restroom? I know, given all of the budget cutting and downsizing that we’ve seen these past several years, it’s unlikely that we could afford to build a public restroom and keep it maintained, but clearly there’s a downtown need that isn’t currently being met.

[note: The areas marked with the words “shit” and “piss” in the photo above were the actual spots where both shitting and pissing took place today.]

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  1. Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    You need to put up some motion sensing lights and a couple of cameras.

    They might not work, but the camera would be fun.

  2. roots
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Eek. I second the motion sensing lights!

  3. Dan R.
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink


  4. Alex Andra
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    People are less likely to steal if there are pictures of eyes- maybe that works on peeing too?

  5. Alex Hamlin
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Water Watchdog alarm, you stretch out a wire and it let’s out 110db alarm whenever it gets wet.

  6. Eel
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Put in a bathroom attendant with a tip tray.

  7. Jef Porkins
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I have a 4-camera/monitor/VHS recorder system you can have.

    I’d love to look at the actual area and think of some ideas. It would be funny if you could face the monitor at the pee/poopers, to sort of shame them immediately. That might flat out deter them. Or put all 4 cameras on the impromptu commode and face the monitor to the street out front, broadcasting their “business”.

  8. facebook stalker
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Mark Maynard: “Maybe I’m too soft to be a building owner, but everyone has to poop and pee. I don’t want to shame people. I just want them to gently steer them toward buildings owned by other people.”

  9. Jef Porkins
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    You could paint American flags or religious icons on the ground.

    You could hook up a motion sensor to a novelty red siren-style light. It wouldn’t do anything really, but it might be kind of a mind fuck to have the spot blow up like a disco when one is trying to discreetly excrete.

  10. facebook stalker
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Mark Maynard: “Maybe a ‘Poop on a Beal Property’ sign.”

  11. facebook stalker
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Mark Maynard: “Mark Maynard I don’t mind running through a urine cloud. It’s the only exercise I get.”

  12. Aaron Wilson
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    stupid gentrifies and yuppies, ruining all the good pissin’ spots!

  13. Matt Jones
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    5 gallon bucket. Two 5 gallon buckets on weekends.

  14. Eel
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    If you command that everyone poop and pee there, I bet you’d see less of it. People don’t like doing what they’re told to do.

  15. Georgina Susan
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I know this is all meant to be a bit funny, but I want to endorse this approach. Scare tactics and shaming don’t address the real issue, which is that Ypsi is sorely lacking in public restrooms, especially in the off hours. Just where are people supposed to go if they don’t have a home nearby or the money to patronize a building? Even our public library has barriers to entry (must retrieve a key from the desk so everyone knows they are under surveillance). Ypsi needs a grand, destination, public art kind of bathroom in a central area.

  16. Nick Azzaro
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Smells like urine and opportunity. We could very easily set up a photo camera and motion activated flashes. The resulting show could be called “Ypsilanti’s Golden Era”.

  17. Mr. X
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Maybe just a recorded booming voice that says “Please Wipe” a few seconds after the motion sensor is tripped.

  18. Brainless
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Liquid-repelling coating:

  19. Andrew Clock
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Clearly Ypsilanti needs to follow Ann Arbor’s example and build a bath house. I’d like to nominate the Freighthouse for this use. Then maybe we could you know, use, our million dollar barn.

  20. Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    If you stop the urination and defecation in the alley you are a gentrifier.

    Don’t forget that.

  21. XXX
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    You could poop on them from above.

  22. Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Post a map showing the way to nearby playgrounds?

  23. Lynne
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I wonder how much it would cost the city to install and clean some kind of public restroom downtown that could be open 24 hours? I mean, we are talking about one of our most basic needs after all.

  24. Scott Trudeau
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    A sign and a “little free pantry” (a la “Little Free Library”) with directions to alternate defecation locations and some toiletries…/the-first-little-free-pantry…

  25. Zachary Jones
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Time to get a wrote iron fence gate to close off the entrance cove.

  26. Gary Clark
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    People will pee and throw stuff right through anything with openings.

  27. Zachary Jones
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    But pooping will be a challenge.

  28. Nick L
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    You could hook up the motion sensors to some sprinklers. They might not deter people but would at least help wash away the urine.

  29. Bee Roll
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m hoping with more daytime activity over there, it will naturally be eliminated (pun?).

    The second most popular spot is around the corner behind the entrance to the lofts at 208? W Michigan… I threw a punch at a bro once for pissing there. It’s been long enough now that I can tell that to the world I think.

    With you in alley vigilantsi. (Vigilante? Ypsilanti? Actually sounds more like an std? I need a nap?)

  30. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate Mark’s compassionate view of the problem as it pertains to poverty and homelessness. I wonder how much of this is a result of homelessness/ extreme poverty and how much is a result of drunk bar-goers making bad decisions. I don’t have much sympathy for the bar-goers at all…

  31. Chaely Laine
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I trust you’re having your “OLD SCHOOL PISS SPOT” historical marker made for the building as we speak.

    Or maybe a more final “FORMER HISTORICAL PISS SITE 1896-2016” will let people know that the festivities have moved to a new location?

  32. Tim
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    There was a time when communities invested in such things. Now they don’t. Bathrooms are for customers, not for citizens. Even a city as large as Ann Arbor does not have a public restroom. It’s criminal.

  33. Frosted Flakes
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Ann Arbor has restrooms in several of their parks, which is nice. They close at night I think. But yeah, I don’t know of any public restrooms in more commercial areas of Ann Arbor except for the Library. Maybe someone could come up with a list? I might need to use it someday.

  34. Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Also, could you install a urine trough? That would send a clear signal that the area has no privacy for pissers.

  35. 734
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Somewhere Karen Maurer’s ears are perking up.

  36. Leftwing
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I was going to suggest this was the work of Karen “throat punch” Maurer.

  37. blueeyedpupil
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    they even make a public bathroom that is self cleaning. Sounds like what we need

  38. Brian Bruxvoort
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m picturing a tiny brownfield sculpture park, just don’t let anyone test the soil.

  39. Taco Farts
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Yay let’s punch people for committing nonviolent offenses! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to punch the school children who litter in my yard!

  40. Dirt
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

  41. Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I don’ think anyone suggested that the urinators be punched, TF.

  42. Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    And thank you, everyone else, for the advice. There are a lot of good ideas here. I’ll keep you posted.

  43. Francis Baur
    Posted June 28, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    From now on, this is where I will piss.

  44. Parent Out Here
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I suggest a fence. Put a sign on the fence directing people to the bus station. SOS had a public restroom. I don’t know if it’s still accessible though. I know at one point they started locking the door and only helping people if they had an appointment. At one point the bathroom at SOS was closed down and people started using the bathroom on the neighbor’s lawn. She was very angry to keep finding human poop in her yard and I can’t say I blame her.

  45. Taco Farts
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink


  46. Eel
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    “I hadn’t even peed yet.”


  47. stupid hick
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    In my experience there is no easy way to stop hobo pissers. Not when your alley is already known as an old school piss spot. But a motion detector hooked up to a camera, and you have ready made content for your blog! Award prizes for the best captions suggested by your readers.

  48. stupid hick
    Posted July 6, 2016 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh, this too, if you find any remarkable turds consider submitting a photo to

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