Savannah City Council upholds new plumbing standard

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 10:52 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah’s city council unanimously voted earlier this month to revise a standard separating different sexes in a restroom.

The amended ordinance is based on the new international plumbing code. The previous 2018 ordinance required separate facilities for each sex.

It’s something Alderwoman Alicia Miller Blakely wants to remain in place.

“I voted yes, but after looking at it and listening from the constituents and their concerns. This is not something I would ever ever agree to. I have 28 grandchildren and I surely don’t want any of my granddaughters going into a stall where a male can walk in while she is using the restroom.”

Alderwoman Estella Shabazz said this isn’t just a conversation within the city’s chambers.

“There are questions being asked right now. Questions being asked all around this nation in reference to this particular item.”

There was also confusion about a stall versus a restroom.

“I just asked you this [to the city manager]...if a female is in there and a male walks in, they will be able to use that same bathroom...I asked you clearly,” said Alderwoman Blakely.

City manager Jay Melder said, “the standard is that there are separate stalls doors to fixtures, toilets and commodes..”

“They won’t share the same stall but the same bathroom. There will be a shared sink area.”

Though there was a motion to reconsider the vote and Alderwomen, Alicia Miller Blakely, Kesha Gibson- Carter, Estella Shabazz, and Bernetta Lanier voted against the measure, the five other council members voted in favor of the change and vote upheld.

WTOC is checking in with council members to see when this new standard will take effect.

And as the temperatures continue to heat up, the City of Savannah voted to bring back their cooling centers. This means when the city manager deems it’s hot enough, they will use air conditioned community centers for people who need it.

Mayor Van Johnson said, “this is an opportunity for the city to come in when it’s very hot and over a certain index determined by the city manager and emergency director that we will open up city facilities so people can come in and have water...”

The mayor added when it gets cold again they will open their warming facilities back up so people can have heat.

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