Neighbors of Eleanor Pardee Park along Channing Avenue, where one is scheduled to be placed this year, are upset the toilets could encourage unwanted persons to stick around, especially given concerns that gang members have been using the public space.
"We welcome people who want to use the park, but we don't want it to be something where you stay all day and into the night," Pat Eadie, a longtime Crescent Park neighborhood resident, said.
"When a park has toilets, it is like a beacon welcoming people from distances afar. ... It's defeating the whole purpose of the park as a neighborhood park."
Kirsten Essenmacher agreed. She grew up five blocks away and played at Pardee Park as a child.
"It's not a good idea. ... It does encourage people to hang out longer and have larger parties," she added.
Other park users, though, are in favor. They point to a threat to public health if toilets are not installed: young children who relieve themselves anywhere they can.
Rasheedah Jones, a nanny who brought two girls ages 7 and 8 to the playground this week, has already experienced the hazards of not having toilets nearby.
"If you don't live nearby, you have to rush home and hope the kids don't pee in the car. I had one who had an accident in my car recently," she said.
Pregnant mothers with touchy bladders also benefit from rest rooms, according to Megan DeLeon.
"Remember what it was like when you were pregnant?" she asked Anneliese Abdella, whose children climbed on playground equipment.
Abdella, a Menlo Park resident, said Pardee and Holbrook Palmer Park in Atherton are two of her family's favorites.
"For mom's groups, we planned to meet where bathrooms are. At Holbrook Palmer Park the restrooms are open and always clean," she said.
DeLeon and Abdella said they don't fear that restrooms will attract the wrong element.
Most park restrooms are locked after daylight hours and neither woman has felt unsafe at other parks with toilets, they said.
The prefabricated rest rooms are planned for installation at Pardee and Seale parks this year; for Cubberley Community Center in 2009-10; Juana Briones Park in 2010-11; Don Jesus Ramos Park in 2011-12; and Boulware Park in 2012-13, according to Elizabeth Ames, senior public works engineer for the City of Palo Alto.
The rest rooms will carry a $200,000 price tag each, which includes landscaping, she said. They will be the same as those installed in Mitchell Park. The buildings will have automatic, timed locks that will close at night.
The city is trying to buy the Eleanor and Seale restrooms concurrently at a discount price, she added.
The decision to add toilets is based on feedback the parks department received from residents, she added.
Ames said the Pardee Park restrooms would probably be located near the street on Center Drive and near the picnic area. A pathway would lead from the sidewalk and would be wheelchair accessible, she added.
The restrooms must have approval from the city's Architectural Review Board before the project goes out to bid in October or November, she said.