BATHROOM BUFFONERY ON TODAY’S AGENDA
Item #4 on the P & R Agenda today is Hours of Public Facilities (for bathrooms over seen by their department. That’s most of the public ones.
Instead of directing Tony Elliot to immediately reopen the Louden Nelson bathrooms–closed to the public since March 2018, the staff proposal supports continued closure. As a kind of “split the baby” diversion, the pro-closure staff report also suggests forwarding to City Council a second proposal to require City Council vote before any further closure of bathrooms
This might also include portapotties–the night-time bathrooms for poor and unhoused people. That proposal was part of a packet of items presented by Councilmember Glover back in January-February, but set aside by Mayor Watkins.
Today’s hearing on item #4 covers the two recommendations–specifically:
“That the Parks & Recreation Commission consider the request to modify Santa Cruz Municipal Code 13.04.011 to establish a new provision that park closures lasting more than 14 days must have City Council authorization; and
That the Parks & Recreation Commission consider the request to support the current administrative policy to provide restroom facilities at Louden Nelson Community Center to patrons using the facility for classes, programs, or other scheduled uses.”
The staff report makes no mention of any actual evidence requiring the locking down of the bathrooms last spring. This coincided with the closing of the San Lorenzo campground that sent homeless people streaming into the parks and neighborhoods. Meanwhile an anti-homeless fence was created around the adjacent Laurel Park & First Alarm security “guards” sent in to patrol the park. this aligns withthe homeless-hostile measures by the Terrazas, Mathews, Robinson, & Bryant Councils–a new normalized-discrimination narrative.
HISTORY OF STRUGGLE
In one of the candidate forums in the fall of 2016, 8 of the candidates, including the conservative-reactionaries agreed that Louden Nelson bathrooms should be reopened “immediately.”
Conscience and Action has held meetings with City Manager Martin Bernal and P & R Director Tony Eliot. It has also engaged in public protests in front of the P & R department, at City Hall, and at Louden Nelson last year and petitioned the Council to act to restore the traditional open status of the bathrooms.
Last year the local ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) weighed in demanding reopening of the bathrooms there and moved its meetings away from the Center in protest. See https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/06/09/18815564.php .
As an outgrowth of the Freedom Sleepers and the subsequent Survival Sleepers actions of 2015-2017, the “Give a Shit” campaign arose urging reopening of the City Hall bathrooms–closed by City Manager Martin Bernal to “discourage” protest and homeless use. (See https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/05/19/18786558.php)
THE STALL CONTINUES
Aided by a fourth vote from Vice-Mayor Justin Cummings to delay action until a “Charter” is created, City Council’s Watkins-Mathews reactionary minority has stalled any action on the issue (and none is currently scheduled). First delayed until August, the issue has been further stalled until action by the Community Advisory Homeless Committee (CaCH) which is not likely to report anything out for 3-4 months at the earliest.
TOILET TRAINING FOR THE ELDERLY, DISABLED, & UNHOUSED?
Private attempts to fill the “bathroom gap” created by City Council and P & R’s refusal to restore bathrooms were thwarted by city action removing a privately-fundeed portapotty. See “Further Developments in Poo Poo Politics” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/06/13/18815669.php?show_comments=1#18815707
The 8 portapotties (2 of them disabled accessible for the first time) and 3 wash stations finally set up at the Ross Camp before it was destroyed by police and rangers have not been replaced since their removal in early May.
Ironically, it was concerns about preventing a Hepatitis A out break initially led to the setting up of portapotties first at the San Lorenzo campground in 2017, and then at Ross Camp in 2019.
–“Liberate Locked Lavatories” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/09/30/18817923.php
–“Bathrooms, Winter Survival, and Community Caring — A Rally — Join Us!” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/09
–“Pee & Poo Protest: Reopen Essential Bathrooms for the Public and the Poor” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/07/14/18816456.php
–“Santa Cruz City Manager Refuses to Reopen Louden Nelson/San Lorenzo Park Bathrooms” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/07/08/18816393.php
–“Bathroom Baloney–Expanded Speech to City Council on its anti-homeless restrooms policies” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/06/13/18815669.php