Public Indecency Laws
11:29 am
Mon October 14, 2013

King County Bans Public Urination And Defecation (Yes, It Was Still Legal)

Updated at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

And until Monday night in unincorporated King County, going in public was allowed. That's when the council voted to ban public urination and defecation and to fine violators $125. The new rule doesn't apply to those younger than 12.  

Before the vote on Monday, Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who has worked on the issue for five years behind closed doors, called using public space as a bathroom "unacceptable behavior."

“It’s interesting to me that, if you’re a dog, Fifi does defecation in public, you’re required to pick it up or you could be fined,” Lambert said. “But you, yourself, could do that and currently, you could not be fined.”

A public space, according to the King County website, includes "streets, sidewalks, bridges, alleys, plazas, parks, driveways, parking lots, vacant land and buildings open to the general public, and the doorways and entrances to buildings or dwellings and the grounds enclosing them."

The ban does not affect hiking and biking trails and transit centers.

Lambert said the law is necessary to comply with a law on public indecency that was recently strengthened by the state Legislature.

Seventeen cities within King County have enacted similar laws, but it was not a part of King County code until Monday.

Lambert said she understands urgent situations, however. Before the vote, she said that if someone is in public and has “just gotta go,” that person should find a tree.