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Public Restrooms Downtown? The City of Mill Valley Requests Your Input

The City of Mill Valley would like to inform the community of a proposal to construct a public restroom in the vicinity of the Downtown Plaza and to gain input on the new restroom’s location.

Released by the City of Mill Valley
The City of Mill Valley would like to inform the community of a proposal to construct a public restroom in the vicinity of the Downtown Plaza and to gain input on the new restroom’s location.

At present, the City does not provide public restroom facilities in the downtown. The nearest public restrooms are located at City Hall and Old Mill Park. These restrooms have limited hours and the restrooms at Old Mill Park are about a quarter mile from the central downtown area. The restroom located in the Depot Café and Bookstore serves café customers and is commonly used by the general public due to its central location. However, restroom users frequently experience long lines to access the lavatory and congestion in the dining area of the café. Further, the existing facility is not physically accessible to all users.

Many downtown business owners and the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce have expressed to the City a need for a public restroom in the downtown area to reduce demand on businesses and to provide this basic service and convenience to our residents and visitors.

Guided by its Core Values to preserve health and safety and the community's high quality of life, the Mill Valley City Council established the maintenance and enhancement of City infrastructure as one of its Key Issues. The Mill Valley City Council approved the Fiscal Year 2012-2014 Budget in 2012, in which they funded a feasibility study and architectural analysis to evaluate opportunities to construct a public restroom facility in the downtown. The following year, the City Council approved the 2013-2014 Budget Revision, which provides funding for the construction of a downtown public restroom.

Earlier this year, the City hired the Mill Valley architectural firm Jessup Associates Architects, Inc. to prepare a feasibility study to identify a preferred location for the public restroom. Four alternatives were identified and evaluated in the study; three remodel opportunities at the Depot Building and one concept for the construction of a free-standing restroom at the bus shelter adjacent to Sunnyside Avenue at the south end of the Depot Plaza.

Elements such as construction cost, proximity to utilities, impact to existing tenants, limitations by virtue of existing leases, ease of construction, aesthetics, historic-resource considerations and general construction impacts and complications were all taken into account by our architect in the evaluations.

The feasibility study and initial recommendation were introduced to the Parks and Recreation Commission in November, 2013 for input and direction on the concepts. The Staff Report and the Downtown Plaza Restroom Feasibility Study from this meeting are available for download at the City's website www.cityofmillvalley.org and are available in hard-copy at the Public Works office at City Hall and the Mill Valley Public Library.

At the November meeting, City staff recommended the bus shelter (Option #4) as the preferred location for a public restroom facility in the downtown. Public comments and suggestions regarding the alternative locations for the restroom facility are desired by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

There are options for you to provide input, including:

Attend the next upcoming Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm at City Hall, 26 Corte Madera Ave. The meeting will also be webcast live and recorded for on-demand viewing.

Send written comments via mail to180 Camino Alto Mill Valley, CA 94941 Attn: “Plaza Restrooms.”
Send written comments via email to parks@cityofmillvalley.org<mailto:parks@cityofmillvalley.org>.   

Please write “Plaza Restrooms” in the subject line.

After the January Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, the item will then go to the City Council for their consideration and direction. Once the location is selected, we will move into the architectural phase of the project and again seek public input prior to the Parks and Recreation Commission’s action. Depending on the location, design could take place as soon as early 2014, with construction in summer of 2014.

The Mill Valley City Council has identified community-serving facilities and infrastructure improvements that are responsive to community desires and sensitivities as Key Issues. Councilmembers also value a balanced, inclusive, and open approach to decision-making processes and encourage citizen participation. The City recognizes the community’s strong feelings and interest regarding the downtown and sensitivity towards change. The City plans to proceed slowly and deliberately with this proposal, in an open and inclusive process, and invites comments and different perspectives throughout.

We thank you in advance for your constructive input to help guide the process, and we look forward to hearing from you either in-person at the January meeting or via written comments.
Lisa Alviar Lundy December 09, 2013 at 10:29 AM
The depot does not let the public use that restroom! The Tyler Florence Shop has a restroom that the public uses, and has been allowed to use because the closest public restroom is in Old Mill Park! Nobody wants to walk all the way down to Old Mill Park, or use the dark cold resource of a public potty if they need to use the restroom. The local businesses do not really let or want people using their restrooms. A public restroom near the depot(middle of town) is what is needed. Having worked downtown, this was an issue that came up often. Luckily, I knew where to send people in case of that emergency.
Clayton Smith December 09, 2013 at 02:23 PM
During an earlier discussion of this matter before the previous city council, I suggested that the existing Chamber of Commerce offices adjacent to the Book Depot would provide the ideal centralized location for a public restroom. Bob Burton, who was present thought it was a idea that had merit as did many others present. I also suggested that the Chamber of Commerce, cramped into the small portion of the Depot building, might better serve the community if it were to be housed in a larger space, preferably across the square in the building that Peet's Coffee is located. One spot is currently vacant. This would allow the Chamber to have high visibility and window space for town promotions, as well as a provide a meeting room for its business serving events. It would also provide an opposing anchor Depot and the public open space that would benefit tourist activity. The benefits of having the public restroom in such a central location speak for themselves.
Lindsey Hickman December 09, 2013 at 02:37 PM
To address Jack, I spoke with a representative at the City of Mill Valley who says the lease reads: “Lessee may control the use of the public restrooms by lock and key, or some other device, to be made available to patrons at the discretion of the Lessee or agent.” Council has asked the Lessee to allow the public to use the restroom. The Lessee does, but she is under no obligation to do so. Linn Walsh at the City is happy to address any questions and states that a FAQ will be released after more feedback has been received. She welcomes inquiries directly at lwalsh@cityofmillvalley.org
Jack December 09, 2013 at 03:02 PM
The Depot does let the public use the public restroom located on the property (I've been using it for 40 years without incident). The Depot is permitted to control access to this public restroom with a key, but does not choose to do this, as it is impractical. The Depot also has discretion to discourage undesirable behavior in this public restroom.
Al G. December 09, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Would support the idea but location and setting is important. Do not think that a free standing building would be good option for reasons of space requirements and visibility. The back side (parking lot side) of the depot Building would be ideal - plumbing and electrical is already nearby. Chamber would benefit from larger space (and windows) if they moved. Everyone wins!!!

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