Better Bathrooms on

The campaign for better bathrooms in the parks moved to the neighborhood social network this week and met with a strong positive response.

This is my post:

Paul Ferris, the parks boss holdover from the Bates administration, is testifying at a special council work session Tuesday 4/4 that new bathrooms in Cesar Chavez Park would cost $800,000 apiece. He estimates that new or upgraded bathrooms in 13 parks would cost just shy of ten million.

Ferris’ numbers belong to an era when cars had big tail fins, computers used 5 1/4 inch floppies, and people made copies with carbon paper. Technology has advanced in park bathrooms as in other fields, and prices have nosedived. In recent months I visited a new park bathroom in Lathrop. It had a flush toilet, urinal, and sink for handwashing. It cost the City of Lathrop $52,000 (fifty-two thousand) including installation. I visited another new park bathroom that the National Park Service installed in Pacifica, replacing the porta-potties at the Mori Point trailhead. It had a flush toilet, urinal, and sink for handwashing, and set the NPS back $61,000 (sixty-one thousand). The Navy is installing a similar unit in Monterey. These units are completely odor-free, use solar power, and don’t require sewer hookups.

For $800,000, the City could install brand new park bathrooms with flush toilets and handwashing sinks in every park. If Ferris has his way, the City will spend $100 million in T1 bond money and people will still have nothing but porta-potties in the parks.

For more information, see and plan to attend the T1 workshop on Saturday April 8 at 10 am at the South Berkeley Library, corner of MLK and Russell.

In response, 13 people (to date) thanked me: StevanneAuerbach, Bryce Nesbitt, Linda Franklin, Yvonne Burgess, Nancy Hamill, Norm Gold, David Taylor, Jess Goldberg, Dan Newman, Jennifer Cole, Ellen Franzen, Mona Wagner, Robert Geldman Miriam Maxwell, Trent Pearce, and Claire Mecredy.  

In addition, there were nine replies:

Picture of Elliot Halpern
 Elliot Halpern from Rose District · 2d ago

Martin, I hope you can come to the meeting on 4th and counter Ferris math.

Ellen thanked Elliot
David Taylor has no photo
 David Taylor from Rose District · 2d ago

I would expect to pay more here than in Lathrop because the number of antisocial public property destroyers is much higher here than in Lathrop, but its hard to imagine that difference more than doubling the price.

Picture of Norm Gold
 Norm Gold from Rose District · 2d ago

I fully support the campaign to build reasonably-priced public toilets in Cesar Chavez Park — and other locations. But, anything over $70K per unit sound outrageous to me!!!

Ellen thanked Norm
Picture of Doug Finley
 Doug Finley from McGee Spaulding · 2d ago

Note that in the real world, the retail price in this area for a contractor to build a full 3BR house, including a reasonable profit, is around $400k. The bribes, kickbacks, featherbedding, & using City money to pay a full crew to work on some private project elsewhere must be getting pretty expensive.

If anyone thinks I’m making up that last phrase… I watched the “progress” on the bike bridge over the freeway in the late ’90s & the block of permeable paving next to BHS almost daily, from start to finish & at variable times of day. The speed of construction on both was glacial, & on many sunny dry days, there wasn’t a single worker to be seen on the whole site. So where were all those employees while the contractor was getting paid 3x or more the private rate

Picture of Bryce Nesbitt
 Bryce Nesbitt from North Berkeley BART North · 2d ago

Where are the existing EBMUD and Sewer connections, for each proposed toilet?

Picture of Martin Nicolaus
 Martin Nicolaus from Rose District · 2d ago

Bryce: In Cesar Chavez Park, water pipes run all along Spinnaker Way and deep into the park. As for sewers, the toilets I’m talking about don’t require a sewer hookup. They use flush-vault technology. The one in Lathrop went 8 months before it needed to be pumped out. This technology is completely odorless. Unlike porta-potties, these units have floor drains and can be pressure-washed inside if necessary.

Picture of Bruce Brody
 Bruce Brody from HAASS · 1d ago

We must be in the wrong business- 800K for a bathroom, wow we!

Joanna Baker has no photo
 Joanna Baker from North Berkeley BART North · 1d ago

I would love better bathroom facilities at Berkeley parks. I cannot be at the meeting but fully support this cause. The porta-potties are gross and are not family friendly. It is ridiculous that playgrounds don’t have bathrooms for children to use….they are unable to hold it until they get home. We just need the will as a city to make this happen

Barbara Richardson has no photo
 Barbara Richardson from North Berkeley · 1d ago

Thank you, Martin, for addressing this issue. Because there are no toilets in the tot park to which I take my grandchild, some care-givers bring potties to the park for the tots to use. Then they dump the contents of the potties somewhere on the park premises or over the fence. Or, they guide the tots to void in a corner or near a fence. This is an absurd situation that needs to be remedied. Your work on this is greatly appreciated.

Moni thanked Barbara
Shoey Sindel, Rose District
I won’t be able to attend the meeting but here are my 2 cents…Park bathrooms desperately need an overhaul to make them private and clean. Additionally, all public bathrooms NEED soap. Imagine going to the park with your kids for a picnic and having no soap to wash their and your hands after going to the toilet. Our parks are part of what make Berkeley a great town so let’s do what we need to make them clean and welcoming for everyone.

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