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Once polarizing, bathrooms to become fixtures in Palo Alto parks

Original post made on Apr 11, 2023

Palo Alto's effort to equip parks with bathrooms gained momentum Monday, when the city approved the purchase of prefabricated restrooms for Ramos and Rinconada parks. Boulware Park is right around the corner.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 11, 2023, 9:19 AM

Comments (19)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 11, 2023 at 10:15 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"The Rinconada Park restroom would be on the west side of the park, next to the newly installed playground"

Which, ironically, is near the new Junior Museum and Zoo which used to have free bathrooms that the kids playing at the newly installed playground is -- right next to where the old playground was.

Too bad thew new $$$$$$E costly Junior Museum and Zoo never opened up its bathrooms to the same kids it used to serve so now we're paying for both new toilets and unused Junior Museum and Zoo. They might have attracted some new visitors willing to pay the $$ entrance fees.

Thank heavens Palo Alto can always just raise our utility rates to fund this type of common sense efficiency.

Posted by Clayborne
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2023 at 10:28 am

Clayborne is a registered user.

Good to learn that public bathrooms will finally be located in Palo Alto parks, but the article understates the anti-"outsider" animus that prevented this from happening at Johnson Park during the 1990s. I used to enjoy pickup basketball games there, and especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet a variety of people from the surrounding area. But the lack of a nearby bathroom and the odd circular court always sent a message that only nearby residents were welcome and only if they were content to shoot baskets rather than play three-on-three games. I hope the recent decision on park bathrooms and the earlier decision to open Foothill to non-residents indicates that Palo Alto residents have become more welcoming to all residents as well as visitors.

Posted by AllenPod
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 11, 2023 at 10:57 am

AllenPod is a registered user.

Every time I walk by Pardee Park, I wonder where the people there relieve themselves. Wouldn't a toilet facility be a civilized addition to this attractive park?

Posted by Jim Smith
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 11, 2023 at 11:13 am

Jim Smith is a registered user.

Do I have this right? In 2017, the council approved a parks master plan that identified seven parks — Bol, Bowden, Pardee, Johnson, Ramos, Robles and Terman — as promising restroom destinations. Today there is a plans to install a bathroom at one of these parks, Ramos. In two years, the city plans to renovate existing bathrooms at Mitchell Park and Foothills Natural Preserve. Is there any plan to install bathrooms at the parks promised restrooms 6 years ago? I realize government can run slow, but at this pace (one bathroom every eight years) bathrooms should be installed at the remaining parks by the end of this century.

Posted by SRB
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 11, 2023 at 11:26 am

SRB is a registered user.

"People bring up time and time again the argument that the homeless will use the bathrooms." .... as opposed to not having any to use?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 11, 2023 at 11:40 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Jim Smith raises good points about the other parks needing bathrooms vs Rinconada where the city destroyed the much-loved, much-frequented FREE Junior Museum and Zoo for a vanity project. Our dogs always loved greeting the kids and their caretakers at the old Zoo on our walks to the library; now it's s empty and sterile -- as are the bathrooms there.

Will the city ever acknowledge how badly they destroyed a much-loved treasure by hiring a pricey consultant with no local knowledge about how the old zoo was used? Instead the city approved a sterile costly vanity project to generate $$$$ as a regional tourist attraction near one of the city's busiest intersections.

Nope, they'll keep patting themselves on the back for getting such a deal on the new bathrooms.

Posted by Reid
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2023 at 2:54 pm

Reid is a registered user.

This is great for young parents. I have no idea what parents of toddlers did in the 90s. I have rushed my 2yo daughter to multiple park bathrooms many times.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2023 at 5:21 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Personally, I think we need bathrooms at the Baylands. The two centers are rarely open when I go there and I am not a fan of portapotties!

At many of our parks even those with bathrooms, I see people and children in particular relieving themselves in the bushes. The homeless are likely to do the same if there is no bathroom so at least giving them somewhere to use is better than having human waste in the bushes.

A self locking mechanism that works after dark with a 2 minute warning before it comes on and a button inside for emergency release would prevent some of the possible abuse.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2023 at 6:16 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

I have an idea. How about issuing keycards to people who bring their CPAU bills to City Hall?

You know I'm just kidding but check back when THAT becomes an "action item" after a homeless person gets caught using one of the bathrooms.

Of course there are ways to defeat the key card system.

Instead of using 2017 dollars, now we are using 2023 dollars that are worth a dime each on the currency exchange. We are so smart. And so stingy with our love for humankind.

ETA Are these bathrooms going to be wheelchair accessible? I will wait to file my Cal Ave petition and just make the rounds throughout the city and add more locations that bar access to disabled people.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2023 at 7:17 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I live 8 walking minutes from Ramos Park so it has never been an issue with me...well, maybe for a few exceptions...but that was when I left my house in the dark to take long (3-4 mile walks) many years ago. I heard cocks crowing just before sunrise, on some streets. I'd walk down the middle of the streets except when I knew a newspaper delivery vehicle or diaper delivery truck was coming up behind me. A few times I had to bail out of my walk and head for the big redwood tree down in the corner by the basketball court. I hid myself behind it so nobody entering the park from either entrance would see me. That tree looks beautiful. Did my urine play a part in that?

And, yes, it's a beautiful park shared with many people from other neighborhoods and communities for recreational activities. I welcome the restrooms and all those park visitors. And, equally important is to provide a place for the homeless to relieve themselves in dignity...and relieving park maintenance crews and city owned garage cleanup crews from having to scoop 'poop'!

Posted by Alcon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2023 at 7:31 pm

Alcon is a registered user.

Have people forgotten that the new Junior Museum and Zoo was built by a $25 Million campaign by the Friends of the JMZ, not the City?? Seems so from the comments of many here.

Posted by Old teacher
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 11, 2023 at 7:35 pm

Old teacher is a registered user.

I attend Tai Chi practice once a week at Eleanor Park. There are many elderly people and children who use that park and who need a bathroom! Palo Alto is a rich city and my tax dollars should provide me with an adequate toilet when I need it at a park. I am horrified that neighbors think that a toilet will make the park attractive to the unhoused. There are already many people who are forced to use bushes and trees when nature calls. That is unsanitary and unsafe. Put toilets in Eleanor park!

Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2023 at 8:38 pm

TimR is a registered user.

So how did Peers Park end up with one? I run by there regularly, and occasionally use it. And in my experience, while I have encountered homeless using it, they haven't been a problem. And unlike the one in the Bryant/Lytton parking garage, there's no vandalism and destruction. I think parks are too far removed from the general homeless population, and I don't see how any of these other parks would be any different from the Peers one.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2023 at 11:33 am

another parent is a registered user.

I sincerely wish the city would make the pay to use bathroom on the corner of Waverley and Hamilton free and add even more public facilities. (Handing out free tokens is NOT a solution... those tokens are often sold by the recipients instead of being used for the bathroom.)

The lack of free public bathrooms downtown is terrible for Palo Alto, a destination city for tourists, shoppers, and, yes, homeless. Even Carmel-by-the-Sea has free public bathrooms. The problem of public urination/defecation is very real and not only done by homeless people. I've been repeatedly appalled by well dressed people using private gardens to do their business.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2023 at 11:57 am

MyFeelz is a registered user.

@another parent ... in the wee hours driving past the parklet on Cambridge, I saw someone peeing on the shrubbery adjacent to the seating area. The seating for those outdoor eateries was unplanned, and I would guess people peed there long before there were ever tables and chairs. It's something to consider when choosing dining experiences that haven't been inspected by the health department.

Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 12, 2023 at 1:24 pm

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

Don't forget Bol Park. We have so many young kids who come to see the donkeys and they can't hold it, they are little -- they have to pee in the bushes. Please give us a bathroom.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 12, 2023 at 1:30 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

The bathrooms will attract the homeless.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 12, 2023 at 1:35 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Have people forgotten that the new Junior Museum and Zoo was built by a $25 Million campaign by the Friends of the JMZ, not the City?? Seems so from the comments of many here."

Yes, there were donations but the city was still on the hook for millions of dollars for such a poorly planned and managed project. Just think of the recent $1,000,000 dinosaur statutes. Look at all the articles debating how much to raise the admission fees due to the budget shortfalls and missed forecasts. The last number I saw was going from $`5 to $18 a person!

How many of you have been inside the JMZ? What do you think? I know that we and our dog miss seeing the 40 kids and caregivers sitting in front of the old one in the shade. How many people do we ever see in front of the new one? Usually none.

Coming back to Rinconada Park and the newly redone playground, let's remember that there are several --4 -- nearby buildings with bathrooms: the Children's Library, the JMZ, the swimming pool and the standalone bathroom building near the pool and the sunken theater? area.

It makes me wonder if our "planning" people ever get out of their offices and make on-site visits before making these decisions and spending all this money. Thank heavens for CPAU and its freedom to keep raising our rates.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2023 at 11:47 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Johnson park . A beautiful, unique, 4 sided neighborhood park. A community garden, a basket ball court, a slide for children protected w a fence. Yet. No at bathrooms! No running water to feed the plants of nature. Is it too near EPA to accommodate ? Does basketball incite crime from the “other side”?? Do garden growers cause trouble? One of the very best parks in Palo Alto is Johnson! Surrounded by residents SFH and Multi FHs. Clip: not much to do in this town for teens older than 13. I was called to pick up my teen at Johnson. Not late. Maybe 9:30 pm on a Sat nite. She was socializing w a few other hS friends. I pulled up. Thinking how will I see her. How will she see me. There, the intimate few were. Sitting conversing sharing their lives at a picnic table under one of the two overheads lights available for safety & security. Yet this sweet public spot has no public bathroom?! Even if locked at dusk. Only 5 years earlier I was there while I enjoyed the freedom my children had as they slid down the wide concrete slide playing, w local neighborhood children. Yet there was no where to take my children to pee! The local children left to do their business at home. We soon left too. Not because we were not having fun frolicking, but because there was no where to go to go. If u get my drift. I have often thought: let’s do a family get to get here at Johnson. Yet without a public john how do elders & youngsters in a single family outing enjoy the true civic amenity when there is no where to empty a bladder? No wonder the garden is wilting, weed filled & dry.

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