“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down,” said the Big Bad Wolf to the lazy little piggies who built their houses out of lightweight, temporary materials. Yesterday the big bad northerly wind did just that to a pair of plastic porta-potties near a park entrance on Spinnaker Way. See photo below.
Isn’t it about time to replace these lightweight, temporary outhouses with sturdy, permanent structures? The Yacht Basin, about 150 yards from the park boundary, has a whole series of bathrooms, each equipped with flush toilets, sinks, and some with hot water. At other parks in the area, such as nearby Pt. Isabel, visitors can use restrooms with flush toilets and cold water sinks in the parking lot near the Mudpuppy Cafe. On the far end of that park stand cinderblock campground-style restrooms without flush and without sinks, but still a big step up from the plastic porta-potties that have served Cesar Chavez Park for what — twenty years?
The plastic restrooms in our park are covered in graffiti, and despite regular service by the rental company that provides them, in the afternoon of a busy weekend day they are in deplorable condition. I saw a family approach the restrooms over Christmas. The daughter, who looked to be about twelve, tentatively opened the door of one of them. She made a face. “Eeeww! I’m not going in THAT!” she said, and the family turned away to go home.
Cesar Chavez Park has become better known over the years. The temporary porta-potties might have been OK when the park was new and visitors were few. Today, they jar the eye as much as they offend the nose. Cesar Chavez Park deserves toilet facilities on a par with other valued parks in this region. In November, Berkeley voters passed a substantial increase in parks funding. It’s time to invest some of that funding in upgrading the restroom facilities at Cesar Chavez Park.