Cambridge Looking to Close Public Urination Loophole - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Cambridge Looking to Close Public Urination Loophole

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An alley in Cambridge often used as an outdoor restroom ( Photo:WBOC) An alley in Cambridge often used as an outdoor restroom ( Photo:WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- A loophole in the law has some people in Cambridge blushing, while others are simply outraged.  The law deals with "going in public."

It turns out that using the street as a bathroom is allowed, as long as no one else sees.  Now that the loophole has been discovered, the city is working to close it.

This may sound like a niche problem that only a few business owners have to deal with occasionally.  As it turns out, a lot of them have to deal with this several times a week, if not several times a day, so the Cambridge City Council is trying to fix it.

A park, an alleyway, some see a bathroom.  Sergio Martinez makes a living cleaning vehicles, but he also has to clean his alley.

"At least every three days we spray the alleyway, the front, and the alleyway itself because sometimes it smells like pure urine and feces down there," said Martinez.

Sergio says several times a day people urinate in the alleyway, and occasionally even defecate.  It's not just one business owner having to deal with the sights and smells.

"It's happened, I've seen it.  I think we need something.  There needs to be something in place," said Katie Smith, owner of Katie Mae's Country Shoppe.

The city is working on an ordinance proposed by Cambridge Chief of Police Dan Dvorak to address the issue.  The current state laws only address public exposure.

"If you see them, and they are urinating on the side of a business or a residence, if you don't see their genitals then you can't cite them under Maryland law," said Dvorak.

The new ordinance would make it a misdemeanor, which starts at a $50 citation, then $150 for subsequent offenses.  If there are more offenses,  "They could go to jail," said Dvorak.  "We hope that wouldn't happen.  Our goal here is to get people to go to the bathroom in a proper bathroom."

Which some business owners are happy to accommodate.

"We have a public restroom for customers and if people need to use the restroom, I'd rather them use our bathroom than go outside and get cited and get a ticket," said Martinez.

"It's not going to end just because we have something that says you can't do that, but I think we need to have something where we can try to keep it down," said Smith.

That effort will be seen in front of City Council again for possible adoption in July.

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