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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.

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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.
Jack December 31, 2013 at 10:47 AM
The restroom in the Depot is a public restroom. Always has been, and has been stipulated to remain so.
Lesa Carmean December 31, 2013 at 06:53 PM
The Depot is one of the only public historic spaces downtown that provides a sense of community continuity. While it provides a small public restroom it's not the primary purpose of feature of the building. It's my opinion that a larger, busier, more overt bathroom facility would not be an enhancement to the very center of the village. Therefore, provided an appropriate replacement shelter would be constructed for southbound transit riders, the current bus shelter would be a less intrusive location for a public restroom. However, it does seem odd that the only place deemed appropriate for a large public restroom facility is smack dab in the center of downtown.
Rhona Gordon Maxwell January 01, 2014 at 09:40 PM
I just hope that if a bathroom is constructed at the south end of the plaza, that it is properly maintained and cleaned. We have a shortage of trash cans in town and there is trash overflowing all the time. While walking downtown, my husband and I frequently pick up the trash. Do you think we will be able to keep a public bathroom clean if we can't even keep our town clean?

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