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Around Town: Temporary bathrooms eyed for Pardee Park; environmental organizations win grants

Tidbits on people, events and other happenings in Palo Alto

In the latest Around Town column, Pardee Park may soon see temporary bathrooms that are "significantly nicer than a port-a-potty" and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District announces its first-ever grant recipients.

PORT-A-PARDEE ... After faltering in its initial effort to build a restroom at Eleanor Pardee Park, Palo Alto is now considering a more modest proposal for the popular park: renting and installing temporary restrooms. Under a "pilot" proposal that the Parks and Recreation Commission discussed on July 23, the city would keep modern, high-end restrooms at Pardee Park for about a year. The move is a response to neighbors who have opposed prior proposals to add permanent bathrooms at Pardee Park, citing security and cleanliness as top concerns. If approved by the council, the restrooms would be similar to those that were used during the recent construction of the Baylands Golf Links. Daren Anderson, a manager at the Community Services Department, described the temporary structure as "significantly nicer than a port-a-potty." By adding the bathroom on a pilot basis, the city is hoping to reduce opposition to a new bathroom from the park's neighbors. "If we're confronting a lot of opposition to it, it's a tool where we can say, 'See if your fears are realized. Let's put a restroom there without the enormous cost or the permanency.'" Though commissioners didn't take any formal votes at the meeting, most supported the proposal. "Bathrooms are really different now," Commissioner Anne Cribbs said. "They can be locked at night. They have particular designs that enable them to be kept clean. The old objections probably aren't as strong." That said, most commissioners continue to support building a permanent bathroom at Pardee Park. Commissioner David Moss said it's critical for residents who would like to see the added amenity to talk to neighbors and address the hyperlocal opposition. "It's really important that neighbors talk to neighbors of these bathrooms because that was probably the reason we didn't move faster two years ago," Moss said. While the city is treading cautiously at Pardee Park, it is moving more aggressively at Ramos Park, which will undergo a major renovation next year that includes new playground benches, a new drinking fountain and a resurfaced basketball court. As part of that project, the city is also adding an amenity that the City Council has consistently encouraged for local parks: a permanent restroom.

SAVING THE PLANET ... For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, the Midpeninsula Open Space Regional District awarded community grants to six Bay Area environmental organizations. The Los Altos-based district gave away a total of $250,000 in grants to support projects that line up with its mission and revolve around its open space preserves. Environmental Volunteers received $25,000 to install interpretive panels between Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto and the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center in Palo Alto. The largest grant went to Vida Verde Education Center, a San Mateo County group that was awarded $50,000 to support its summer leadership camp for 30 high schoolers from under-resourced schools in the region. "We are excited for this opportunity to build deeper connections and strengthen and diversify our community partnerships," district General Manager Ana Maria Ruiz said in a press release issued Tuesday. Projects by the grant beneficiaries are expected to start next month and wrap up by September 2022.

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Comments

31 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2019 at 8:23 am

Not building restrooms in all city parks is mean to children and senior citizens.


9 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2019 at 2:20 pm

There is no obligation to build bathrooms at any parks. If the neighbors don't want it, the city should listen and stand down.


29 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2019 at 2:37 pm

Define "neighbors". There is no city park on my block. The nearest park is 6 blocks away. Am I a "neighbor" that can decide if the park needs a restroom or do only people living on the same block get to decide? We can't walk to the park because the kids and grandparents will need a restroom break once they get there.


12 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2019 at 4:11 pm

Single-person unisex restrooms such as at Arastradero don't seem to attract trouble the way the older style restrooms do. Also, in this case, "neighbors"?


5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2019 at 3:38 pm

>> a temporary bathroom that is "significantly nicer than a port-a-potty"...

Do you mean to say significantly less disgusting than a port-a-potty ?
Nice is not an adjective that should be used in any way to describe a port-a-potty.


22 people like this
Posted by Park User
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2019 at 3:58 am

As a regular user of different parks in Palo Alto it is amazing to see none have bathrooms aside from a very select few.

My family and I walk to parks and while my wife was pregnant we could barely walk to a park only to have to turn around to go home on account of her needing to use the restroom. Not to mention, kids who use these parks and even normal adults need to use the bathroom and having these accessible is just common sense. Not only for bathroom usage, but to wash hands or the occasional spill/accident is so useful. If you live right next to the park, you have the luxury of going across the street to use your bathroom while people who would rather walk/bike to their local park needs to cut their outing short as no local bathrooms.

Security and cleanliness are valid concerns, but ones that can be easily fixed with simple measures. Lock it up at night if you feel undesirables would use it. Have maintenance crews clean/inspect them as part of their regular rotation.DONE.

Enough of this NIMBY about providing a basic amenity to parks in PA and MP.


17 people like this
Posted by Re: Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2019 at 4:14 am

Re: Citizen

Do you use the parks? or just live across the street from one? What is your primary objection to having a place where parents/families can use when nature calls?

We live in suburbia and yes we have a homelessness problem here like any other cities, but are you concerned that the bathrooms will cause option dens to pop up? Sorry to sound crude, but try to think of what a Park is used for.

Think also of how Pardee has picnic tables, fields for organized sports, playgrounds. These amenities encourage people to spend more than an hour or two at the park. Requiring everyone to pack up everything when nature calls is ridiculous. Anywhere else in the country parks have working water fountains and bathrooms.

Besides Pardee we go to Willow Oaks that has youth baseball and soccer games regularly. There is no bathrooms here either and parents have resorted to bringing buckets because kids need to go when they need to go.

Have we looked at other parks in MP/PA and do they see a problem with security and cleanliness?


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2019 at 7:04 am

Biggest need for bathrooms in my opinion is the Baylands. The two renovated buildings are closed whenever I am there, evenings, weekends. There is one porta potty but no dedicated restroom. I was there last weekend. There were many hikers, windsurfers, families, etc. and no restrooms.


Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2019 at 7:29 am

@resudent
I know of at least 3 clean well functioning bathrooms in the baylands.
Keep looking!


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2019 at 8:00 am

@Sam

Restrooms at the golf course and the airport are not accessible to hikers. The two buildings, Interpretive Center and Sea Scout building (not sure what it is called) are closed more often than they are open.

The Athletic Fields are quite a hike away from the duckpond or harbor.

If you can suggest others, I would be very pleased to hear. Restrooms should not be a scavenger hunt, so please share the information you have.


1 person likes this
Posted by mike
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Byxbee (sp?) park.


5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 7, 2019 at 11:42 pm

Byxbee Park's restrooms are a Palo Alto disgrace. Half the time, at least in the men's the door doesn't close. There are not clean seats so you have to use the butt gaskets, and since the top is open air by the time you place them on the seat they blow away. Then when you are done they will not even put civilized human toilet paper dispensers, so they padlock rolls of people you have to unwind around the padlocked bar.

This does not even mention that the place is a filthy mess, even right after they clean it. The people who clean it do the absolute minimum.

Even so, Byxbee park is much better than the Port-o-Potties.

Walk over to Mountain View it's the same thing. The restrooms on Terminal Ave. are every bit as disgusting. I remember calling in for over a year to report the hand-dryers were not working, and nothing was done. The place stinks and there are vandals who regularly seem to purposefully stuff the toilets full of paper towels, which is probably why they got the hand-dryers, but then they don't work.

Nothing public in this city seems to get any attention. Any civilized competent human being could turn this around in a month of constant checking but the facilities managers in both Palo Alto and Mountain View seem to be gone or don't care about their jobs ... and I bet they are paid plenty.

Force the facilities manager to get off their butts and personally sign checkover sheets that are posted in each public facility in both cities, and make it a requirement of their jobs. If they do not do it they do not get paid. If they go in and sign it when things are not working, they get fired.

You know things are bad when people will walk a mile down the trails and answer nature's call in the weeds. We seem to be a town with a disdain for the public and no self-respect.


Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 8, 2019 at 12:00 am

I have always considered it my right to drop friends off at the Pardee pool when necessary.


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