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 POTTY PARITY 
Support resources for media and legislative staff researchers 

 

OVERVIEW

'Potty Parity' refers to advocacy efforts and actual legislation that addresses the longer lines for women often seen at public restrooms.

Women's queues are often seen at venues where the toilet fixture were allocated according to out-of-date building codes.  These codes mandate a minimum number of toilet fixtures for various occupancies, which are based on complex  formulas and tables.

The code used in older buildings typically mandate an equal number of toilet fixtures for women and men rather then the 'necessary' number of fixtures for both sexes.   Older code also does not address surge periods in toilet usage at large venues; for example during the the 7th inning stretch at baseball game.   Even the current code used by many States does not address the problem women face at small venues with a single women's toilet.  One mom, walking in with her small children can have the toilet locked for 5 - 10 minutes which often causes a queue waiting for the door to open.  Potty parity legislation, typically, has tried to address these problems by mandating twice as many toilets for women as for men.

 

PROBLEMS WITH GENDER PARITY LEGISLATION.

A legislated female:male 'ratio, typically  2 to 1, has serious deficiencies.   First,  it conflicts with State-mandated building codes   The latest building codes address 'toilet need' with direct counts rather than ratios.  Worse, for certain venues the latest code mandates ratios higher  than 2 to 1 leading to the ironic situation of potty parity legislation reducing the required toilet fixtures for women.    Adding   'no less than'  language can result in a significant excess of fixtures reserved for female use.   This might occur, for example, in an all-male school dormitory or a prison block.

A second problem is that rather then adding additional toilets, often male restrooms are converted to female use. Rather then removing queuing for  everyone, it results in a shift to longer lines for men. 

A front page story in the April 12, 2009 New York Times entitled "New Ballpark Statistic: Stadiumís Toilet Ratio" provides interesting examples of proper building code implementation and it also discusses distortions caused by 'ratio' legislation. 
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RECOMMENDATIONS

The American Restroom Associations recommends 'potty parity' legislation that has a three-fold goal.

First, ensure that the required  'minimum number of toilet fixtures' in the latest building code provide the necessary number of toilet facilities for everyone.  The two major sources of  'toilet provisioning  code',  are the International Plumbing Code and the Uniform Plumbing Code.   For most venues, the toilet minimums provided in the 2009 version of these codes will eliminate queuing for either sex.   Legislation may be required to address building code weakness for a few remaining critical popular public venues.   For example, the IPC requires 1 toilet for women in a restaurant that could accommodate up to a 150 people (the UPC requires 3).  In a store designed to accommodate 1000 customers and employee's, the IPC still mandates only 1 female toilet.  (the UPC requires between 4 to 8).   

Second, bring older buildings up to the 'minimum number of toilet fixture' required in the latest code.  

A third objective of this legislation should be to increase the use of  unisex toilets  where feasible.  Unisex facilities provide intrinsic potty parity.   Small restaurant, for example, often have 1 men's and 1 women's toilet.  Making them both unisex would reduce the chance of waiting for everyone.

 

ARA POTTY PARITY CODE DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT MATERIAL 

ARA technical support  for changes proposed to correct potty parity IPC deficiencies via the  ICC 2010 Code Development Cycle.

Potential Corrections   (F) = Female  (M) = Male    

Current IPC 2009 is A-2  Bar   1 per 40 
  Change A-2  Bar  (F)  1/25 first 25 then 1 per 75     
U=200
  Change A-2  Bar  (M) 1/25 first 25 then 1 per 90    
U=200+150 

Current IPC 2009 is  A-2 Restaurant  1 per 75
   Change A-2 Restaurant  (F)  1/25 first 25 then 1 per 80
   Change A-2 Restaurant  (M) 1/25 first 25 then 1 per 100

Current IPC 2009 'B' Business  is  1 per 25 first 50 then 1 per 50 
    Change B (F)  1 per 25 first 50 then 1 per 50            
U=200
    Change B (M) 1 per 25 first 50 then 1 per 100          
U=500+300

Current 2009 'M' Mercantile is 1 per 500
   Change M (F)  1 per 25 first 50 then 1 per 400          
U=200
   Change M (M) 1 per 25 first 50 then 1 per 600         
U=200+150

There are various foot-notes and rules that are included with the minimum number of toilet fixtures tables. Below are ARA developed tables that show actual numbers after the caveats are applied.

NOTE: THE ARA RECOMMENDATIONS BELOW WERE FOR 2006 CODE CYCLE, NOT 2009

MINIMUM NUMBER OF TOILET FIXTURE COMPARISON CHART

   Cell background colors indicates 
   RED    Minimums appear inadequate
   YELLOW  - Questionable minimums 
 BLUE  Minimums appear excessive
 GREEN Proposed change  


FEDERAL LAW 29 CFR 1910.141(c)(1)(i): Toilet Facilities
 

For an occupancy between  1-15 16-35

36-55

56-80 81-110 111-150 151-300
Total WC Minimums  1 2 3 4

5

6 12

UNIFORM PLUMBING CODE  2006 RESTAURANT  PUBS & LOUNGES 

For an occupancy between  1-14 15-100

101-300

301-500 501-700 701-900
Total WC Minimums 1 8 10   12 
IPC 2006 A-2 RESTAURANT
For an occupancy between  1-15 16-150

151-300

Total WC Minimum  1 2 4
IPC 2006 A-2 PUBS & LOUNGES
For an occupancy between  1-15 16-80

81-160

161-240 241-320 -400 -480 -560 -640
Total WC Minimum  1 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Note1: Federal Law 29 CFR 1910.141 is  based on research reported by the U.S. National Institute of Health.  The law has been successfully defended against numerous challenges in both State and Federal Courts.    

Per the above, ARA recommends the following changes to the 2006 IPC
.

    ARA - MINIMUM IPC WC RECOMMENDATION CHART

CHANGE  TO  2006 IPC A-2  (RESTAURANT & BAR COMBINED) 

For an occupancy between  1-15 16-50 51-100

101-150

151-300
Total WC Minimums 1 1M:1F 2M:2F 2M:3F 3M:4F

FALL BACK  #1  2006 IPC A-2  RESTAURANT ONLY

For an occupancy between  1-15 16-60

61-150

151-300
Total WC Minimums 1 1M:1F 2M:2F  2M:4F

FALL BACK  #2  2006 IPC A-2  RESTAURANT ONLY

For an occupancy between  1-15 16-60

61-150

151-300
Total WC Minimums 1 1M:1F 2M:2F  2M:3F

 
 

IPC 2006 USE GROUP M is significantly significantly at variance with the UPC and appears to be under provisioned at higher occupancies.

UNIFORM PLUMBING CODE  2006 RETAIL & WHOLESALE  (EQUIV IPC USE GROUP M)   Note14 does not apply

For an occupancy between  N 1-50

51-200

201-400 401-600 601-800
Total WC Minimums 1 1M:1F 2M:2F 4M:4F   M=2w+2u 6M:6F M=3w+3u 14 (6M:8F)

IPC 2003 USE GROUP M 

For an occupancy between  1-50 51- 1000
Total WC Minimum  1 2  
  

"AT LEAST" CHANGE RECOMMENDATION FOR IPC 2003 USE GROUP M 

For an occupancy between  1-50 51-100
Total WC Minimum  1 2M:2F

Note:  Going from 2 (1 locked for each gender) to 4 (2 WC for each gender) increases the capacity more then 2 fold. 
Note: The IPC allows urinals to be substituted for  50% the WC's
 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                         

American Restroom Association                                      
PO Box 65111                                                                        
Baltimore, MD 21209
202-747-6031 - Policy and Media queries 410-358-9007(FAX)

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: The American Restroom Association (ARA) is formally incorporated in the State of Maryland and is a subsidiary of the International Paruresis Association  ARA is not qualified to provide legal advice. This web site contains non-vetted information that is un-official and for education only. There are no formal or financial agreements with any persons or entities cited. Some material is from copyrighted sources. This material is for education only and it must be source referenced.

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