Does sitting outside increase the need to urinate? District public-space rules seem to reach that conclusion. Azeb Desta, owner of Shaw coffeehouse Azi’s Cafe, sought permission from the District Department of Transportation’s Public Space Committee to add 12 sidewalk seats to her business last month, but before the permit could be granted, she received a surprising request: Install another bathroom. The additional seats would have pushed her over a 14-seat-per-restroom limit that Desta was unable to find in print. “I did everything by the rules. I complied with every written rule that they have,” the Alexandria resident says. Department of Transportation spokesperson Bill Rice says that the committee is merely enforcing building-code regulations: “[W]e don’t approve something that’s in violation of District code.” Alex Padro, a member of the advisory neighborhood commission that approved Desta’s plans, disagrees with the ruling. “How is anybody ever supposed to comply?” he asks. “Are we supposed to be psychic?” Desta has since modified her alfresco seating plans, swapping four indoor seats for outdoor seats, citing a lack of space for the second john. —Constantine Caloudas

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