Berkeleyside Covers Bathrooms Issue

Berkeleyside photo by Seung Y. Lee

Today’s edition of Berkeleyside contains a story about the campaign for better bathrooms at Cesar Chavez Park.

Reporter Seung Y. Lee, a Cal undergraduate, did a good job with the story.  But city spokesman Matthai Chakko fed him a fib when he said the porta-potties “are cleaned six times a week, including on Saturdays and Sundays.”  According to the man who does the cleaning, they’re cleaned every other day and never on weekends.   That’s also what eyes and noses say.

Another official fib that the story relays is that the $600,000 price tag for the projected windsurfer bathroom “is due to the difficulties bringing utilities out to the marina.”  The truth about the $600,000 number, according to people knowledgeable about Parks management practices, is that about 40 per cent is “soft costs”  — fees for consultants and managers.   That’s $240,000 for people in Parks management and their consultants to figure out how to build a restroom.

I talked to a vendor of prefab park restrooms — there’s several on the Internet — and learned that a prefab park bathroom with two sides, flush toilets and sinks, ADA compliant, runs about $100,000 +/- $25K, delivered and installed.  The owner needs to supply a pad with hookups.  The vendor does the rest.  At that price, the $600,000 could pay for two, possibly three permanent new restrooms.

The $600,000 windsurfer bathroom proposal raised deep cynicism in some people I talked to in the park.  One homeowner in the Elmwood area said that Berkeley city government was deeply corrupt, and that most of that $600k would go to line the pockets of politicians, bureaucrats, and their contractor and consultant cronies.  You hear this kind of slant in Chicago.  I was surprised to hear it in Berkeley.

I’ve asked Berkeley City Auditor Ann Marie Hogan to look into the $600,000 windsurfer bathroom project.  Complete transparency is urgently needed here.

Thanks to Seung and to Berkeleyside for covering this story.



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