News

Residents: Top need for Palo Alto parks? Bathrooms

Surveys reveal what people want in local park, recreational facilities

Playing around is serious business in Palo Alto, where praise and demand for parks, playing fields and nature preserves come in equal measure.

The city's recreational offerings consistently win top grades from residents, with 92 percent of respondents to last year's National Citizen Survey ranking the city's parks as "good" or "excellent" and 87 percent giving these top two grades to the city's recreation programs. At the same time, ideas for improvement are constantly popping up: Dog owners, nature lovers, soccer parents and community gardeners all have their own proposals.

Now, the city is collecting, sorting and analyzing these ideas as part of its effort to create a new roadmap for recreation, called the Parks, Trails, Open Space and Recreation Master Plan. For the past year and a half, city staff and consultants have been surveying residents, holding public hearings, assessing local playgrounds and crunching data for what will be the city's first recreation master plan since 1965.

Though the effort is still many months, community meetings and heated debates away from conclusion, it has already netted reams of data.

Over the course of their research, the city's consultants from the firm MIG have reached out to more than 1,000 residents, split about evenly between those who live north and south of Oregon Expressway. Each was asked a series of questions about local parks, the types of new amenities that they would like to see and the best ways the city could promote environmental sustainability in its open spaces.

Some of the responses were predictably territorial. Those in the northern half of the city, for instance, were more adamant than those in the south about the need to fix up the Rinconada Pool facilities. Meanwhile, south Palo Alto residents were three times as likely as their northern counterparts to give weight to renovating Cubberley Community Center.

Yet no matter where they live, residents believe the city should give top priority to improving neighborhood parks. And when it comes to which amenities they'd like to see more of at local parks, residents from all over Palo Alto gave the same answer: bathrooms. The survey showed 81 percent of the respondents choosing restrooms as important or very important additions to make local parks more convenient. This was followed by drinking fountains and places to sit (each of which was deemed important by 62 percent).

And while Palo Altans are famous for their technophilia, the survey suggests that many look to parks for escaping from -- rather than enabling -- the digital noise. Fewer than 10 percent of the respondents said Wi-Fi access at local parks is important, while 45 percent explicitly deemed it "not important." Opportunities to buy food and drinks also ranked low on the wish lists of local park-goers, with fewer than 5 percent saying it is important and nearly 50 percent saying its not.

Bicycle and pedestrian connections to local parks are important to residents, the survey indicates. About three quarters of the responders deemed new routes and paths as appropriate or very appropriate for enhancing the heath and well-being of community members (fewer than 5 percent said they are not appropriate). Park trails and quiet areas that allow visitors to connect with nature also proved popular, while outdoor exercise equipment and added recreation or exercise classes elicited less enthusiasm.

Palo Altans also believe that water conservation at local parks is very important, with 73 percent supporting expanded use of recycled water and 77 percent supporting new stormwater-absorbing features. But when it comes to replacing grass fields with turf, results are decidedly mixed. While survey respondents were generally in favor of expanded hours at local sports fields (54 percent supported more hours while 19 percent opposed), 43 percent indicated that it would not be appropriate to use artificial turf to reduce water use and expand playing time.

Dog owners, understandably, voiced their support for adding recreational opportunities for their pets. Nearly 80 percent said that improving existing dog parks is appropriate or very appropriate, compared with about 50 percent of the people who don't own canines. Dog owners also favored designated off-leash hours in parks and additional dedicated off-leash areas within parks (both with 66 percent support). Those ideas that were not nearly as popular among non-dog owners, with only 16 percent and 30 percent, respectively, liking those ideas.

Researchers also asked residents to weigh in on the city's largest recreational opportunity, the 10.5 acres near the Baylands Athletic Center that are designated for future recreational use. The two options of adding sports fields and creating a natural area for hiking and birdwatching received the greatest endorsements, with a new dog park and community gardens garnering support, though to somewhat lesser degrees.

The survey results are expected to inform the new master plan, which will identify and prioritize short-term, mid-term and long-term improvements to parks and recreational facilities. It will also include a funding plan for implementing these improvements and individual plans for each city park and recreational facility.

Last month, the Parks and Recreation Commission formed a special committee to come up with criteria that would be used to prioritize projects -- a list that includes such things as cost and geographic demand. The commission is scheduled to continue this discussion of these criteria at its July 28 meeting.

For some commissioners, geographic balance is among the biggest issues in the new plan. Commissioner Deirdre Crommie noted at the June 23 meeting that dog parks "tend to be clustered in the south of our city," while community gardens tend to be in the north.

"Some people are sensitive about certain services not being available throughout the city," Crommie said.

But even within a given neighborhood, tradeoffs and debates will be inevitable. Commissioner Pat Markevitch pointed to one that already exists at Johnson Park, where the interests of gardeners sometimes clash with those of parents.

"I'm getting pushback from neighbors in the Johnson Park area who are now saying, 'We want more play space for the kids. Can we take it away from the community gardens?'" Markevitch said at the June 23 meeting.

In recent months, the MIG team has used the survey answers to come up with common principles that would be used to weigh actions and recommendations. These principles are: playful, healthy, sustainable, inclusive, accessible, flexible and balanced. While new programs and amenities will not be required to contain all of these qualities, preference would generally be given to those that meet most of them.

Ellie Fiore, consultant with MIG, said one of the keys of the new planning effort is to achieve a balance of uses and accommodate the different types of residents who use local facilities.

"We're not going be expanding and building lots of new stuff or finding new land, so we have to find ways to have multiple uses in the same space but in a way that's balanced so it's not overwhelmed by any given use or any given style of development," Fiore told the commission at the June 23 meeting.

Comments

13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2015 at 7:45 am

The Baylands is always forgotten when parks are discussed.

As a frequent visitor, I would indeed like to see restrooms there. I seem to be asked by out of town visitors where the nearest bathroom is, where there is a map of the trails and where the nearest snack shop/coffee shop is.

The Baylands get a lot of out of town visitors who are not familiar with the area but want to enjoy it. It is an embarrassment that these basic amenities are hard to find and the facilities are so poor. The boardwalk is closed, the interpretive center is closed, and these are where the visitors expect to find some facilities they can use.


32 people like this
Posted by Agreed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2015 at 9:28 am

Small children have small bladders. We have them use the bathroom before we leave, but in this hot weather they drink more water, their bladders fill up, we can't make it home in time, and......

Also, what's with the drinking fountains being turned off in some of the parks?????

And why are the kiddie sprinklers, which use recycled water, turned off in Mitchell Park?


18 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2015 at 9:52 am

There are several considerations when looking at adding bathrooms to a park:
- design & construction costs
- daily maintenance costs (labor & supplies)
- water usage vs. conservation
- maintenance frequency per day, 7 days/week
- porta-potty vs. permanent facility (costs)
- attractive hideout for substance abuse users
- attractive respite for homeless
- potential increase in use impact for local/neighborhood parks --- allows non-residents to travel to a neighborhood park and hangout all day.

The large parks (Foothill, Rinconada, Arastradero, Mitchell) were designed for large numbers (and groups) of people. These parks have picnic tables, grills, trails and (most important) available parking. It may make sense to add facilities to the larger parks (e.g., Rinconada, Mitchell). Both Foothill and Arastradero already have bathrooms.

Conversely, the neighborhood parks were designed for use by the surrounding community. Mostly for walking and bicycling attendance --- with minimal parking available on the street. They were designed for modest usage...not for large numbers of people or groups who hang out all day. And the surrounding neighborhoods were not designed for that either...think parking & traffic.

IMHO, the neighborhood parks will cease being neighborhood parks IF CPA adds bathrooms. To be frank, I would want to see an EIR for any bathrooms proposed for a neighborhood park. Focus on use, traffic and parking.

My understanding is that in the local parks, the issue is for the young soccer leagues. Why not have the soccer leagues provide their own porta-potty, that is locked when they are not using the fields? On their dime so to speak. If that is what is driving the demand - they can take care of it themselves.

My two cents.


12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2015 at 9:58 am

No bathrooms is fine for young adults, but toddlers and seniors need to go much more frequently and have a harder time getting home quickly (even if only a couple of blocks walk). No bathrooms at neighborhood parks is just silly. If sports leagues are an issue, increase the price of their permits to help pay for the bathrooms.


10 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 24, 2015 at 10:44 am

Putting bathrooms at local parks will not be easy. Several years ago a plan was put forward to put a bathroom at Jesus Remos park off East Meadow. If you remember the residents surrounding the park protested vehemently. Their argument was that the homeless would start sleeping on the benches in their park simply because there would be toilet nearby.

I have seen the homeless sleeping at Mitchell Park right outside the toilets. Be careful for what you may ask for, you may get more than you'd anticipated.


8 people like this
Posted by Lois
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2015 at 10:50 am

Crescent Park Dad: Mitchell Park already has bathrooms at both ends of the park, and also nearby in the toddler play area, we don't need anymore.


10 people like this
Posted by Robin
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2015 at 11:22 am

I am a resident near Don Ramos Park and wish I had been consulted re adding a bathroom! I certainly would NOT have protested vehemently. I am totally in favor of adding bathrooms to the smaller Palo Alto parks that don't have one. I have definitely been at some of the "bathroom-less" parks (little league with my son years ago, hosting a BBQ in a local park for my Mother's 80th birthday, all-day boy scout Eagle project improving park paths...) when not having a bathroom was a major issue - had to run home or jump in the car in the middle of the event to take kids home to use a bathroom!


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2015 at 11:34 am

Great topic! Important topic.

I am uncertain how to come down on this issue. Crescent Park Dad expressed
the major points. For me the major points are:

1. Non-Resident Use.
2. Facilities maintenance and upkeep.
3. Crime and Homelessness.

Residents:

I've never asked people in parks if they were residents of not, but a long time
ago many of us realized that there are a lot or people in our parks that are
not residents. I've seen people driving cars in Rinconada Park, who when I
tried to talk to them did not even speak English. Driving in a park to me is
both a sign of disrespect and a sign of being comfortable doing it. This
bug me. Why do we need to pay to provide recreation to other communities,
and then still endure the vandalism and misuse of said facilities?

It's gotten to the point that I don't care about the political correctness of
the situation, it is too much, and we need a fair, reasonable and cost-
effective solution to it. BUT, it may be that there is no such solution.

So, that is why we seem to have developed a tacit attitude of lets not put
restrooms in our parks, thinking that residents can make the short walk
home to use their restrooms so others will not come to the park. Well, that
also does not seem to be working. People are going to the bathroom
somewhere.

Does anyone agree that the City ought to ensure that we have enough
parks for residents to enjoy, but also, it is nice when taking a walk, if
one goes for long walks as I do, that there is somewhere to go to the
bathroom if necessary. It is just inhumane and unsanitary otherwise.
Don't you hate it when you have to go to the bathroom and you go into
a business and they tell you they do not have facilities? It is the same
with a City in my opinion. If we want a walkable and bike rideable city
we need to look at this as a service.

Maintenance:

When I think about maintenance, I think of the Baylands restrooms which
I probably see the most and am most familiar with. The good thing about
the Byxbee Park facilities is that they are permanent and basically well-
built. One thing I find really annoying is the putting of toilet paper on a
fixed non-rollable locked bar that makes it very difficult to dispense.
Can we really not do any better than this. The facilities are built as if
for some kind of wild animal cage. i really find this kind of design
disgusting, but I guess what I am really saying is that the people who
use our facilities and scratch or paint graffitti or vandalize anything
they can break disgusting, and the fact that we cannot do anything about
it but NOT build facilities extremely sad and disappointing.

The bad thing is that whoever is in charge of hiring contractors in the
Baylands does a really poor job or hiring and overseeing. There have
been times when whoever was in charge of cleaning did not seem to
do their job for weeks, and even when they do they do a poor job.
But, in todays climate of fear and violence I guess no one wants to
take the responsibility to "crack the whip" when someone or some
company does a lousy job at something. We pay money for these things
and we need to get our money's worth.

We need an agreement as to level of service, and if that service level
is not met or complained about, there needs to be consequences
to the service provider. We have people in Palo Alto that go all over
the world and see the best and worst that there is. Do you mean to
tell me that we cannot poll our own people and find somewhere that
we can model our public facilities after that will work.

And I want to tell you also, that our upper level people are not doing
their jobs either. Our local area has been in contact with the City Street
repair about a job for over a year and the assistant director to public
works does not do "S***" ... he does not answer emails, the phone or
even live up this word when he commits to something. These people
set the tone for service in this City ... and it is bad!

This guy is earning, or costing the City over $200K a year for doing
this lousy of a job. I'd rather see some $15-$20 a hour jobs hiring
responsible people to do the dirty jobs and keep our City in good
repair than pay for more incompetent, arrogant and lazy officials
that don't so their jobs and steal from us through our taxes and
fees.

Crime:

There has been a lot of talk about crime and homelessness in these
subjects. We have had few public facilities and still have homeless.
Do we really think the homeless network will broadcast Palo Alto
restroom upgrades and a mass immigration to Palo Alto parks will
occur if we have decent restroom services?

I suppose it is possible, but I think in these things we need to
do what we need to do, and handle problems as they arise.
Even our public places are hijacked for homeless use, and we
get crime and vandalism in all of our private businesses. Go
check out just about any restroom in a large store and you will
find vandalism and hate just about everywhere. Why there are
some people with diamond scribes that need to go around and
deface anything they can think of in restrooms is way beyond
my understanding, but it exists all over. This is a subject way
beyond finding a solution to, and we had it at least to my
memory really starting back in the 80's when Palo Alto really
took off on its current investment and tech boom.

These things are not going to change overnight, so what is the
point in ignoring them for the majority of people who live in
this City and still want a decent quality of life.

The City needs to make sure there are usable and maintainable
facilities in our City in my opinion. The one thing we consistently
fail bigtime in is in all levels of management and oversight.
But people still have to go to the bathroom! ;-)


7 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2015 at 11:42 am

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by FlipSide
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2015 at 11:54 am

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2015 at 6:13 pm

For those of you who think that lack of bathrooms keep people away, I would hasten to add that lack of bathrooms makes people use bushes. I have seen moms show their toddlers how to pee behind a bush. I have seen older people (usually men) step behind a tree and either heard or noticed the puddle. With the homeless, it is probably more likely they will more than just pee.

Bathrooms can be remotely locked and pay self cleaning bathrooms are also a possibility. Portapotties are pretty disgusting, but modern self cleaning units that cost 25c a use with an automatic opening door after 10 minutes could be installed at places like the Baylands, the Dish, and other popular parks.


16 people like this
Posted by Agreed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2015 at 6:35 pm

What Resident says is very true. On several occasions over the last four years, I have seen mothers and grandmothers instruct their small children to per behind a bush. Recently, one pulled down her pants and peed in the sandbox! Ever notice a smell of urine on a hot day at Bowden Park? After the last aforementioned episode, I don't take my children there.


10 people like this
Posted by Public Parks
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm

@CrescentParkAnon. Please remember that public parks are NOT for residents only. Ever been to Golden Gate Park, Central Park, or any park in the U.S.? These are all free for anyone to use -- local resident or not. All across the country, local communities pay for such parks, but anyone can use them.


10 people like this
Posted by pee in a potty or a bush
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2015 at 8:53 pm

If you have a small child (aka small bladder) they will pee when they need to. Whether that's a bush or a toilet is up to the City. (And most small boys would rather pee in a bush, is that your choice too?)


6 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2015 at 8:56 pm

In the long run installing restrooms at our city parks is a losing proposition despite the convenience. They will become magnets for vandalism, homeless respite, not to mention the expense for upkeep and management. Not worth it. It won't be long before most people would be too disgusted to use the restrooms anyway. Sad statement, but sadly true.


12 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2015 at 5:21 am

That's not true at all, Marrol.


1 person likes this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2015 at 7:03 am

To be frank, none of us know the future. It comes down to status quo or a change.

I don't doubt the expressed need. But I also don't doubt that there will be some level of negative consequences.

Re Public Parks. I get the point...but Peers Park is not Central Park. Neither is Johnson Park. In fact the large cities also have neighborhood parks (SF, NY, London) and those parks are not designed or intended for use by people for either long lengths of time or large parties from outside the neighborhood. And those parks don't have bathrooms.


1 person likes this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2015 at 7:07 am

SteveU is a registered user.

We have a Drought. We should not be providing Public Baths. (A Bathroom is a separate room where you take a BATH in many parts of the world). The correct term is Restroom or WC.

Not providing a facility because a tiny amount of abuse is really just an excuse.
Make the facility functional, not comfortable, to discourage lingering. Too Hot. Too drafty. Not totally level.

While I sympathies with the folk that must clean up after the deranged user who does things more than just miss. It only leads to more disgusting conditions elsewhere to ban these facilities.
Cleaning contracts need to include a clause that terminates them quickly for repeated lack of performance. The disgust comes with that job (and is included in the bid)


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2015 at 9:16 am

The idea that "they" should build free restrooms is the big problem.

Install self cleaning units which charge 25c (or more) with doors that unlock after 10 minutes and are completely locked for the hours of darkness.

We expect free restrooms, that's the big problem. Spending loose change would help with the costs and also make people realize that free is never free but always costs something to someone.

Don't get me wrong, I love free restrooms in shopping malls, stores, restaurants, movie theaters, airports, etc. But having free restrooms in parks is asking a little too much imo.


1 person likes this
Posted by The Cholera Kid
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2015 at 9:40 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Cholera Kid
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2015 at 10:47 am

I'm tired of stepping in human feces at Eleanor Park. For those
residents who fear that public restrooms will attract more undesirables
(diverse ethnics) to Eleanor Park, I invite you to consider moving to a
less diverse region like Vermont.


6 people like this
Posted by Need better design
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2015 at 11:32 am

Yes we need bathrooms but not the elaborate over-design like on the corner of Hamilton and Waverley. Ridiculous waste of money on an elaborate structure.


3 people like this
Posted by Simple
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 25, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Agree with the above poster. We can spend less on simple restrooms and be able to install more of them in our parks for the same amount as a few fancy ones.


4 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2015 at 5:35 pm


A restroom that is not free is not a restroom that anyone can use.
There have been a couple of occasions where I was walking home
at night past the Post Office and would have liked to have used the
restroom there except I did not have change.

Why is everyone so grinchy and unpleasant?

--

What we should not have is those plastic port-o-potty things.

There are or were some of these out at the Baylands by the dock,
where that big cement sculpture is. Those were the most ill-
maintained, stinky, filthy disgusting facilities I've ever seen in my
life. Here in Palo Alto? That is hard to believe.

--

The problem in Palo Alto is bad management, meaning people
are appointed to jobs because they are friends of someone, or
they are dirt cheap. Where is all our money going, what is it doing
that we cannot afford to have well-maintained and clean restrooms?

--

I think the auto-restroom in front of the Post Office is a good model.
They look simple to install, maintain and low-cost, and mostly
problem proof. I bet they are probably expensive, but the maintenance
and procedures for them would be the same so they would be simpler
and probably cheaper in the long-term.

I go to Rinconada Park now and again, and the restroom there is a
one-off, but for the facilities. There is always a problem there, Water
doesn't work, light is out, door is broken. And fixing those problems
takes longer and is more expensive than maintaining some standard
pre-fab units.

--

Install the restrooms and then track and solve the problems if any.
Let's improve the quality of life and civility in our town.


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2015 at 5:42 pm

>> @CrescentParkAnon. Please remember that public parks are NOT for residents only.

I never said there were, but I inferred there is a problem when it is mostly people from
elsewhere using our parks and out own residents and children either can not or will not.

I really get a little exasperated at people who posthere and act like we build parks for
all the other cities in the area, and just leave the discussion there.

The population density in this area is already such that parks and recreational facilities
are over-subscribed, and our own housing density is greater every day. I respect your
opinion, but please look at the realities and not just the overly-positive politically
correct grandstanding you can do to frame the issue.


4 people like this
Posted by Cholera Kid
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Palo Alto already has a park that is restricted to Palo Alto residents only: Foothills Park. You can go there and be politically correct or incorrect but just remember that cholera doesn't care about your political correctness; just your sanitation correctness. IOW, this is a public health issue.


15 people like this
Posted by Me Myself and I
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Public urination is a crime except for toddlers peeing against the big redwood tree next to the volleyball sand pit or for that matter in the sand pit so long as no one is playing there.

You people are pathetic.
That's right "you people."

If you don't want people form neighboring communities, EPA & RWC & MV, from using your parks then enact an ordinance that Palo Alto Parks are for Palo Alto residents only and their guests just like any other gated community.

If you don't want homeless people gathering around public parks' public toilets, pass an ordinance outlawing homeless people, non-residents in Palo Alto Parks.

San Mateo has several public parks with public toilets and they don't have any problems that "you people" are so fearful of.

Why is that?


3 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2015 at 9:10 pm

I stopped using public toilets years ago after seeing footprints on the toilet seats. How can we get third world folks to stop STANDING on Western style toilets?

Will we need to consider installing standardized squat toilets?


2 people like this
Posted by Cholera Kid
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 26, 2015 at 6:26 am

Long Time Resident asked, "How can we get third world folks to stop STANDING on Western style toilets?" Assuming you're not trolling, "How can we get first world folks to stop STANDING on Western style toilets?" Meanwhile, I don't see anyone from any world SITTING on any style toilet at Eleanor Park.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2015 at 8:51 am

If we had more pay per use restrooms in our parks, we would soon get into the habit of keeping loose change in our pockets, diaper bags, purses, cars, etc. for the purpose. Not a bad idea because how many of us have jars of coins at home that are never used?


3 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2015 at 10:26 am

Some of the existing restrooms in our parks are very old (built in '60s) and are overdue for rebuild. Some restrooms are remodeled to accommodate handicapped access, but the results are often worse than the old layout. Please consider totally replacing come 'vintage' restrooms with new or prefab units.


2 people like this
Posted by xPA
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Hey Cholera Kid,
Assuming you you're not simply fond of alliteration, I feel compelled to set the technical record straight; there is essentially no chance of getting cholera from a public restroom in Palo Alto (East or otherwise). Cholera requires a huge dose for infection, e.g., you would need to drink water so contaminated that it is cloudy. Shigella, on the other hand, now we're talking diarrhea.


1 person likes this
Posted by Cholera Kid
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 26, 2015 at 5:02 pm

xPA, "there is essentially no chance of getting cholera from a public restroom in Palo Alto" duly noted but the problem isn't the public restrooms in PA parks but the lack of them. My point is that people peeing and pooping in the parks that lack public restrooms is not a public health benefit. Of course, an alternative to public restrooms in PA parks would be an ordinance requiring park pooping people to bag their poops. I'll bag mine if you bag yours...


2 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

The number ONE and number TWO problem is where to go #1 and #2 Palo Alto City Parks.
If you have followed my previous posts on housing, the final solution for an unplumbed site was to install PORTA POTTIES behind a FENCED BARRIER. Those Porta-Potties are changed out weekly during the summer; less so during the winter. I cannot check it, but I believe that the users of the field equipment have the responsibility of locking and unlocking of the gate.
I know that users of the nature and fishing path that surrounds the reservoir have use of a regular bathroom that is closed unless there is a special program at the clubhouse.
Some other hiking and biking trails have Porta-Potties at the parking lot for cars; these get changed out weekly.
The result: tourist $$$ support our local businesses. No panhandlers up here; I see plenty of them shaking down customers in Denver where it is illegal ( from a safety standpoint ) to stand in the median areas of a highway. Very few urine smells here. Plenty of wildlife smells and the occasional stalk by a ( non-human ) predator.


3 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2015 at 10:53 am

For the record, at least one park (Bowden Park) is dominated by all day parked vehicles associated with Calif Ave Commercial Core and presumably CalTrain commuters.


4 people like this
Posted by Julia Simon
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2015 at 2:17 pm

We were at Hoover Park on Friday night with a church group at about 7:30. Families and kids. We were at the picnic area near the bathrooms. A maintenance worker showed up for a bit. We assumed he was cleaning the bathrooms. He left awhile later and we discovered he had LOCKED the bathrooms! He hadn't given us any warning or anything. We had toddlers in need. What was he thinking? Grrr.


2 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2015 at 2:39 pm

No offense to the maintenance person, but there's a reason that he is cleaning bathrooms and not running the concierge desk at the Four Seasons.

I'm sure the city has some sort of policy on bathroom hours in parks. They have to clean/close them sometime. Was there a sign for the bathroom hours?


2 people like this
Posted by Board member
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 28, 2015 at 2:40 pm

The Roth Building adjacent to Heritage Park will have an accessible toilet on the external wall facing the children's play area. This is part of the approved restoration plan for the building that will house the Palo Alto History Museum.


7 people like this
Posted by Agreed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Mr Buchanan: it would be nice to have a restroom at the Cal Train Station on Cal Ave, too!


Like this comment
Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 28, 2015 at 4:58 pm

@ Agreed--

The rest room at the California Avenue Caltrain station was locked up several years ago, probably about the same time the station office itself was closed. It may have been a matter of security or homeless people camping out there.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2015 at 5:08 pm

As our population ages but still remains active, bathrooms/restroom facilities are going to continue to be an issue.

The big problem as I see it, is the assumption that free restrooms should be provided everywhere we expect to use them. With the exception of places like shopping malls, theaters, sports venues, airports, etc. there is no reason why restroom facilities should be free.

I have traveled widely and come across various styles of self-cleaning units which have automatic doors that open after a short time. The self cleaning seems to work well and the facilities are clean enough to be adequate and the automatic opening doors will prevent them being used for things they are not designed for. They can also be remotely locked at night, perhaps dusk for parks and say midnight for train stations, etc. to prevent the homeless from sleeping in them or similar tweaks.

Using loose change to pay for these facilities would enable users to recognize that they are not free to maintain and would also recover some of the costs. People who know they are likely to need to use one of these facilities would soon get used to carrying around small change in pockets or purses.

This is a serious problem and it won't get any better. The only alternative to finding a restroom is finding a bush. I know what I would prefer people to use.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2015 at 6:04 pm

>> there is no reason why restroom facilities should be free.

Some people just have a complete uber-fetish about paying and money and the fear someone might get something they did not pay for.

The reason people need free facilities is that you do not always have money with you in your time of need ... so the restroom is useless for its intended purpose. Amortize the cost of the restroom over the usage and every time someone wants to use the restroom and cannot ... they don't have any money, or they do not have correct change, or they only have bills, whatever, that is a big chunk of the money we have outlawed for restrooms that is useless - meanwhile the person goes in the bushes or has an emergency. Some people do not seem to understand the idea of civilization.

More and more often I take off and I have no cash with me ... what do I need cash for. Going without cash in credit card world is great. I can get anything I want without having to carry around a big wallet, and possible lose it, and I can use a smaller credit card mini-wallet and also keep a computer record of everything I spend. Except, if I ever need to use a pay toilet.

F-ing next thing they will want to put pay dispensing on the toilet paper rolls inside the toilets, and then you won't be able to take a breath without paying for it in advance. I thought the neanderthals died out already!


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