This is the first in a series of articles examining the public facilities in Coronado.
Spending ample time outdoors is hardly a problem if you live in Coronado. The climate, numerous parks, world class beaches, and public spaces encourage residents and visitors alike to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. But while communing with nature is easy to do if you live in Coronado, knowing what to do when nature calls is not always so easy. Finding a clean, up-to-date public restroom that is located in close proximity to a park or a beach can be a challenge in Coronado. In other words, where to go if you gotta go?
As the parent of school aged children I spend a fair amount of time at our public parks, beaches, athletic fields and outdoor venues. By association, I spend an almost equal amount of time looking for bathrooms, escorting children to bathrooms, waiting in line for bathrooms, discussing the cleanliness of bathrooms, complaining about the lack of bathrooms, and lastly, hoping for toilet paper. I felt it was important to take a closer look at the public restrooms that are owned and operated by the City of Coronado in an attempt to understand what’s available, which facilities need to be improved and how our City is managing and master planning this important compliment to our parks and recreation resources. Just as importantly, I wanted to invite eCoronado.com readers to share their experience, concerns, and support for adequate and up-to-date public restrooms with our readers at large.
I began my research by wanting to better understand the history Coronado’s public restrooms. General knowledge of the island allowed me to know where most of the existing public restrooms were located, but in this case, a happy accident led me to discover through the Coronado Historical Association that Coronado’s last remaining outhouse from the early 1900’s was still in existence. The outhouse, while no longer in use, has been carefully preserved and rests outside a private residence at 725 Adella Lane, just a few yards from Pomona Park. While not available for public use, the private structure, which has been credited to architect Irving Gill, can be viewed from the sidewalk and is one of the landmarks on the CHA’s historical biking tour of the island. Although this outhouse scores very low on the index of ‘up to date and adequate’, it is a great example of Coronado history and our long-standing appreciation of outdoor restrooms.
Inspired by this discovery, I decided to focus my research on the public restrooms that I knew were operational: Spreckels Park, Glorietta Bay Park, Cays Park, North Beach, Central Beach, and the very recently added Mobile Restroom Trailer. Technically, these are the public restroom facilities associated with our Parks and Recreation Department under the City of Coronado’s management. Tidelands Park is managed by the San Diego Port Authority, and while there are public restrooms along Strand Way near the marina, the Tennis Complex, the Ferry Landing and a few other locations – these restrooms are not standalone facilities; rather, they are incorporated into the maintenance of larger civic buildings or settings that serve other purposes. I wanted to learn how the City of Coronado’s long-range general plan addressed the City’s paks and recreation infrastructure for public restrooms. The General Plan is a public document that can be viewed on line and was created in 1990 as a planning tool in developing and preserving the city’s vital infrastructure. The plan reviews schools, parking, municipal buildings, life safety facilities, athletic fields, public parks, civic plazas, but, alas – no bathrooms. I decided to turn to the City of Coronado’s municipal website and see what I could find on-line. I cross referenced Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Capital Improvement Projects and word searched as much of the data base as possible. Unfortunately, the subject of Public Restrooms is not easily found and while I realize that bathrooms are not on the scale of city planning that perhaps fire stations and hospitals are, they are still a necessary part of the outdoor lifestyle a city such as Coronado prides itself in offering it’s residents and attracting visitors. In my search for information, I began to theorize that if learning about the City’s public restrooms on-line was so hard, then perhaps it explained why finding an actual one at the south end of the beach or during the concert season can cause so much frustration and general bewilderment. In realizing there was no information on the database or master plan inclusive of public restrooms, I turned to Bill Cecil, Capital Projects Manager and Janine Zuniga, Senior Analyst in the City Manager’s Office. Through multiple conversations and correspondence, I’ve been able to piece together a more complete understanding of Coronado’s public restrooms and a overview of the projects that are pending or being considered. I learned a lot about the City’s ongoing issues with public restrooms, the history of debate in the development of new restrooms, and the constraints and opportunities that exist for Coronado in addressing the availability of up-to-date and adequate public restrooms.
While I felt relief that the City of Coronado is – in fact – trying to address the public’s need for more restrooms, I realized that much of the information I gathered was piecemeal and time consuming to source. In learning about the status and pending plans for both existing and new restrooms, I felt it was important to share this knowledge with eCoronado reader’s, who like me, care about this component of our outdoor lifestyle and want to be informed and involved in shaping decisions about how our public restrooms are addressed. Early on in my research, I spoke with our newest City Council members – Bill Sandke and Carrie Downey. Both council members had extensive knowledge of the history of debate around the need for improved and more accessible public restrooms. Sandke expressed that he felt the the City could do a better job of proactively informing it’s residents of the public restroom status and plans for development. And Downey suggested that the greatest challenge in addressing this often controversial topic was in educating the public to get involved in work shops and public meetings.
Thus, my goal in writing this series of articles is to review each of the public restroom facilities, share the information that I have gathered, and provide a forum of communication amongst readers. In January I will review the most current upcoming city project – the renovation and expansion of the Spreckels Park Public Restrooms. This project was approved for renovation and expansion by the City of Coronado in the Fall and will be starting the early planning stages in January 2015. I have an interview with the architect who has been awarded this project and will be sharing the goals of the renovation, the public workshop schedule, and the general parameters of the project in my next story. Number two in the eCoronado series “An Overview of Coronado’s Public Restrooms” will debut in January – I’m hoping you can hold on until then. In the meantime, I encourage readers to share their thoughts, personal experiences and interest on-line with our eCoronado community.
Share your thoughts on the state of the restrooms in Coronado in the comments below.