The folks who went to Charleston's tourism forum Monday to gripe about the need for more public restrooms had to, well, hold it.
City staffers asked residents to list their concerns on comment cards instead of getting up and letting it rip. And several people felt like that provided them little relief.
See, some South of Broad residents complain that there are too many people "going" on trees and bushes in White Point Garden. Some of these folks even wander into private yards looking for public restrooms.
Locals are divided on the issue, but some say it's crazy to have such a wildly popular public park without providing bathrooms.
You could say it's a No. 1 priority. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Of course, a lot of people believe wastewatergate is merely a symptom of a much larger problem for Charleston.
There are just too many events, too many tours and too many people downtown these days.
And some of them are going to have to go.
It's a small world
A lot of people don't realize it, but the city actually has a brochure for this.
No, it's not called "So you've decided to go potty in old Charles Towne."
The Historic Charleston Public Restroom Guide lists more than two dozen public facilities on the peninsula, many of them in our numerous parking garages.
Don't jump to any conclusions - there are bathrooms in most garages.
But the guide notes there are no restrooms South of Broad.
Elizabeth Bradham, who has lived downtown most of her life, says that wouldn't be such a problem had the city not turned the residential areas South of Broad into Disneyland. Residents are annoyed by the number of tour buses, horses carriages and pedicabs rolling through residential streets.
And of course there are all those folks who just come down to wander White Point Garden and gander at the beautiful houses around it. That is part of Charleston's charm, there's no denying it, and people want to see it.
But Bradham says that, as usual, the city doesn't know moderation - and it's tough to live smack in the middle of a tourist attraction.
"It has gotten to the point that I question whether I want to continue to stay," she says.
In other words, we're killing the golden goose.
Of course, city officials will say this is part of living in a vibrant, urban center that just so happens to be the Best Tourist Town in the Known Universe. And that's true, to a point.
But even tourism industry folks will tell you the city should manage its public calendar as well as it controls its public forums.
After all, what Brainiac thought it was a good idea to have the Cooper River Bridge Run and the Family Circle Cup the same weekend as Summerville's Flowertown Festival every year? That's not synergy, it's lunacy.
Every person who attends any one of those events is going to want to see the famous Battery.
And not all of them went before they left home.
Just say "no"
There used to be public restrooms at White Point Garden.
They were under the gazebo, but the city shut them down. A lot of people believe that's because there were often things going on in them that was beyond what nature intended.
Well, beyond what nature intended in a public bathroom.
And for every South of Broad resident who feels sorry for the tourists - and there are some - there are others who don't want to live within spitting distance of public bathrooms, which can attract trouble.
This is one of many growing pains Charleston has to cope with. City staff say they are working on the bathroom issue, but there are no easy answers.
One thing that might make things better - and kill two birds with one stone - is to learn how to say "No" every now and then. The South of Broad residents are right, it's getting to be a zoo down there. Nobody says they have cut out tourism, but maybe put the brakes on the constant onslaught.
Perhaps if the city cut out some of these "festivals" - which, let's face it, are little more than excuses to stand around in public drinking beer - then we might have less of a problem with people not-so-clandestinely watering trees at The Battery.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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