Civic Benefit

Oui Wee? Should New Orleans Install Open-Air Urinals?

You might not have heard this one before, but New Orleans has a bit of a connection to France. We do our best to keep it under wraps but the food, the bastardized take on the mother tongue, the fact that we still operate on a Napoleonic code of laws, the weird quirk that makes us say we need to be somewhere “for” a time and a hip little neighborhood that no one outside of the city has ever heard of might give it away.

Well, the hub of our spiritual ancestors had a bit of a public urination problem. And they came up with a uniquely French solution. (There’s a reason we say laissez-faire when we mean “hands off,” there’s something about French that adds an extra dash of “do whatcha wanna.”) They installed open-air urinals throughout Paris to give desperate folks a place to oui.

According to the city, the urinals are topped with flower boxes and the urinals themselves are packed with straw to filter the urine and reduce any offensive odors. The urine will eventually be used to help keep the plants on top of the massive red urinals alive.

“Straw and urine are then collected and composted, allowing the recovery of naturally occurring nitrogen and phosphate in large amounts in the urine,” the city explained in a statement. “Ultimately, this device allows the urine to return to fertilize the plants.”

More than a few Parisians are upset at the new program.

“I think installing a urinal in the streets of Paris for those who don’t respect their surroundings is a good idea, but in my opinion, this model is not attractive at all, and where it’s been set up is not appropriate at all,” one local told reporters, according to CNN.

Given that our city has a bit of a public urination problem of its own — it’s just about the only thing that can cut through the Quarter’s trademark funk — do you think we should follow our forefathers and install “uritrottoirs”? Would public urinals work in NOLA? And what’s the over/under on number of days before we start calling them yura-trotters?