Better Bathrooms: Status

500The petition drive for better bathrooms in Cesar Chavez Park topped 500 signatures on Sunday, March 8, and on Tuesday evening March 11 I attended the meeting of the Parks and Waterfront Commission.  I had the opportunity there to make a brief presentation right at the outset of the session and I handed a copy of the signed petitions (with the contact information greyed out) to each of the commissioners. Among the members of the public who were present was former Berkeley mayor Shirley Dean, who expressed her support for better bathrooms in the park.

The following week on March 18 I attended a session of “Coffee with Capitelli,” a regular informal gathering where the city council member from my district meets with constituents.  Two members of the Parks and Waterfront Commission were among the 20 or so participants.  Here also I was able to make a brief presentation of the case for better bathrooms in the park, and I handed a copy of the signed petitions to council member Capitelli. A round of spontaneous applause from the group testified that this cause has widespread support.

Separately, city council member Jesse Arreguin sent me an email message expressing support for better bathrooms in the park, and advising that there would be a working session of City Council this coming Tuesday afternoon, where parks priorities were on the agenda.

Earlier, council member Linda Maio, whose district includes Cesar Chavez Park, sent me an email acknowledging that the bathrooms issue was being added to a long list of concerns for the park.  So far, Maio has not responded to an email I sent on Friday, March 13, advising that the petition drive had topped 500 and forwarding a link to a PDF copy of the signed petitions.  I intend to hand a paper copy of the petitions to Maio and all other council members (except Capitelli) at the Tuesday council meeting, if possible.

As with every other issue, moving the city into action is a matter of letting the city mothers and fathers know of our concern.  Grease comes to the squeaky wheel.  It would be helpful if every Berkeley resident concerned with this issue were to send a short email to their city council member saying, more or less, “We need better bathrooms in Cesar Chavez Park.”  Here is a list of their email addresses:

Getting better bathrooms in Cesar Chavez Park is going to be more like a marathon than a sprint.  At some future date, it may also be necessary for supporters of the Better Bathrooms campaign to show up as a group at a commission and/or city council meeting.  Something to think about.

Is there among the readers of this blog someone with experience making YouTube videos?  The faces that people make when they’re asked about the porta-potties really deserve being recorded, and the facilities themselves offer dramatic (not to say repulsive) photo opportunities.  Done properly this could go viral at least in the East Bay and in environmental circles.  Please contact me if interested.

The Better Bathrooms campaign continues.  I’ll post further status updates as the situation unfolds.

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