The public restrooms attached to a restaurant at Fault Line Park — closed for almost a year because the restaurant staff voiced safety concerns related to the area’s growing homeless population — will reopen to the public in the coming weeks, a city of San Diego spokeswoman said.
[one_half][box type=”shadow this-matters”]Less than a week after inewsource’s story about the closed restrooms and park maintenance at Fault Line Park, the city said it is taking action to get the public amenities back open.[/box][/one_half]
Just two months after the East Village park opened in August 2015, Stella Public House employees said their concerns outweighed the benefits of having the restrooms open. They have remained locked despite the city giving a $1.6 million credit to Pinnacle Bayside Development to maintain the park and restrooms at Island Avenue and 14th Street.
A day after inewsource’s recent story about the closed restrooms and park maintenance, signs were posted on streets surrounding the park about a property sweep and cleaning in the area. A row of homeless people, who residents said had been camped on sidewalks outside of the park since January, were also told to relocate.
City spokeswoman Katie Keach said the developer recently notified the city that the public will be able to use the restrooms, but will have to get a key in the restaurant.
Keach said Pinnacle is responsible for maintenance of the park and restrooms, and for providing security in accordance with standards set forth in an agreement negotiated by Civic San Diego, a nonprofit that oversees redevelopment in parts of the city. Pinnacle also has constructed a high-rise apartment complex next to the park and restaurant.
“Certain elements have proven to be more challenging than anticipated,” Keach said in an email. “The City has found that in certain areas, the Developer’s performance has not been to the required standards.”
Tim Graham, a spokesman for the Park and Recreation Department, said the city became aware of the breach in contract in December during a routine check of the park. He said that in July the city began monthly meetings with the developer to “work on the maintenance issues.”
inewsource asked what other maintenance issues were discussed at the meetings, but got no response.
It is not clear whether the developer was providing adequate security, which many residents said was the biggest issue.
In response to an inewsource question about how the city will ensure equal access, Keach said Civic San Diego, the city and Pinnacle are still determining “the best action plan to have them open full time during park hours while remaining safe for all users.”
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Good outcome, and a reasonable one: After paying $1.6 million in “credits” to a private developer to jointly manage public restrooms at a public park, and after months of ignoring their legal responsibilities, the City will finally enforce their contract and open these restrooms to the public- sort of.
The fact that people will still need to go into the restaurant to request a key will likely be a barrier to many people who desperately need these facilities.
When I researched the contract last summer, I found no mention of “screening” people to use the facilities. If the restaurant does so, they may continue to be in violation of their legal responsibilities.
FYI: this situation first came to my attention in June, when a friend and I were looking for a place to set up another “cooling station” for homeless people in the downtown area, and educate the public about homelessness. We were shocked to see these bathrooms appeared to be permanently closed- and even more shocked when we found out the price tag for their construction was a $1.6 million credit- paid by taxpayers- to the developer.
Then, while offering cold water to people at the cooling station, the manager of the Pinnacle apartments called the police to have us evicted from the park. The officers who responded declined, and reminded the manager it’s a PUBLIC park that is not under the control of the Pinnacle management.
I realize “Public private partnerships” are becoming more common ways to invest taxpayer funds in these quasi-private developments. But too often the private interests reap the rewards of high-priced real estate values, while the public finds the doors literally closed and locked to the public amenities such as parks and restrooms.
San Diego needs to do better- and we will continue monitoring this situation to make sure the public receives the full benefits of that $1.6 million dollar contract, beginning today at City Council, when Civic San Diego’s Operating Agreement with San Diego is up for review. More details available here: _https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/10-18-16_4.pdf
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2016 Page 35
The following item will be considered in the afternoon session which is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m.
ITEM-331: Approval of an Operating Agreement and Agency Agreement between the City of San Diego and Civic San Diego.
Approval of an Operating Agreement and Agency Agreement between the City of San Diego and Civic San Diego.
(On 9/12/2016, Item 200, was returned to staff. On 9/20/2016, Item S500, was returned to staff.) (Rev. 10/12/16)
the bathrooms were just a part of the 1.6 million dollar budget. The budget covers everything from landscaping, security, bathroom etc.
Agreed- these obligations were part of a broader contract that Pinnacle (the developer) and Halcyon (the business owner) entered into. And- the bathrooms are part of that contractual agreement- they understood the terms when they signed the documents.
Once you sign a contract, you can’t simply pick and choose what parts you will and won’t follow because circumstances change. Imagine what a betrayal of the law- not to mention the public trust- that would be, and how dysfunctional the City Council would become if Civic San Diego is allowed to operate this way, and ignore the “public benefits” part of their quasi-governmental responsibilities in these “Public/Private” agreements ….
Oh, wait a minute… never mind. No imagination necessary.
More media attention for this issue: Just finished interview with CW6 SanDiego regarding #Faultline park public restrooms. CivicSanDiego needs better oversight and policies when it comes to crafting these public private development plans.
Learn more at 4 PM on CW6
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