Gender-neutral restrooms need more input, Public Safety commissioners say

As gender-neutral restrooms took heat from the audience at the Public Safety Commission’s meeting on Monday night, the commission refused to rush city staff’s plans to start phasing them into West Hollywood’s future.

Last year, City Council ordered staff to craft an ordinance requiring all multi-stall restroom facilities in businesses and public places to be gender-neutral. The ordinance, which applies to new developments as well as significant remodels and new commercial leases, will go before City Council on Dec. 5. 

The city has also sponsored legislation that will allow local governments to require new or renovated public toilet facilities to be designed, constructed, and identified for use by all genders instead of the design standards for separate facilities for men and women currently found in the California Plumbing Code.

Public commenters were dismayed mainly about a separate but related topic — multi-stall restrooms planned for Plummer Park, and the potential for crime created by floor-to-ceiling stall doors — but they were also angered by City Hall’s failure to publish Monday’s report in a timely manner and by conflicting information about when the meeting was supposed to start.

Commissioner Tory Berger agreed.

“I could not give meaningful input because I didn’t have the information far enough in advance,”  he said. “I didn’t have the report. The same thing with the public. They didn’t know about this.”

With Council already scheduled to review City Hall’s plans, the commission wondered what the purpose of their discussion was amid a public outcry.

“If the wheels are in motion and it’s going to Council, what difference does anyone’s input make?” Chair Tod Hallman asked Francisco Contreras, manager of the city’s Long-Range Planning Division.

In a moment of candor, Contreras said “You’re part of our long roadshow where we are providing folks an update as to what the bill that got signed was all about and then taking your input and any new ideas that you might have or any clarifications that we can take in, synthesize it and put into the final specs.”

Former City Councilmember Steve Martin begged to differ.

“This commission’s charge is to give the best possible advice and allow people to have input to talk to you about what your concerns are,” Martin said during public comment. “And as we saw to some degree, that process was short circuited. What staff said inadvertently probably best describes what we have seen the last two and a half years, maybe even longer. Staff said, ‘This was just part of its roadshow.’ I don’t know how much more dismissive staff could be to you.They’re not asking your opinion. And they’re not asking my opinion. They’re not asking the public’s opinion.This happens all the time. The only way it’s going to stop is if we all take a deep breath and stand up to staff and say ‘No, this is not going forward.’ 

While Commissioner Robert Oliver accused Martin of playing politics (both are running for City Council next month), Commissioner Kerri Balbone saw some merit in his critique.

“I think we need to work collaboratively with city staff, not in an antagonistic way,” Oliver said.

“I agree with you in general,” Balbone responded. “But I don’t find it collaborative to get things late and I don’t have a clear understanding that (the presentation) is going to every board or commission. That’s why I wanted it to go to the Disability Advisory Board. They have fears that I don’t have. That I don’t understand. And I think that we’re in the unique position to say, someone’s raised a safety concern, they absolutely should be heard.”

The commission motioned to agendize the item, and it will again be discussed at their next meeting.

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Brandon Garcia is editor of WEHOville. He oversees the website's editorial direction and creates original content such as news reports, photo and video features, digital art work and advertisements. A native of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, he now lives in WeHo and is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. @brandoninthebubble on Instagram

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[…] October, a slew of public commenters took to the podium to express their dismay about gender-neutral restrooms, and the Commission motioned to agendize the item onto […]

pat
pat
1 month ago

Steve Martin… I just hope he sticks to his opinion this time. Two years ago he was all about defunding the police, now he’s mr. public safety. Two years from now is he going to “evolve” on these bathrooms too? Can we risk it?

voter
voter
1 month ago

Women and children–and men–are hurt by removing the restrooms.

Who is being helped by this ridiculous decision? They certainly aren’t worth all of the women and children who will be assaulted and/or raped as a result.

:dpb
:dpb
1 month ago

Haven’t we learned yet? Take the time. Do THOROUGH research, LISTEN and put egos aside. STOP the City Hall BS. Put citizens and safety first.

Simon J. Pardo
Simon J. Pardo
1 month ago

Me: writer/WGA member. Jewish boy, 36. An older guy in my Bldg. knows my Jewish name: Shimon. I go by Simon. OG: “Shimmy, who ya’ voting for?” Me: “Dem.” OG: “No, WEHO City Council.” Me: “Who is good?” OG: “Union has slate. Me: “I like Union.” OG: “Me too! Not this Union ;not this slate. Send ya a text; Do your research!” City Politics– I have noticed much more crime in Weho. I viewed the slate: Robert Oliver/Chelsea Buyers/ Zekiah Wright. First Oliver: Gay, cute, married, Jewish, Immigrant family. Parents worked double shifts. Like. But–do your research Shimmy! Dad: C.P.A.… Read more »

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon J. Pardo

But he worked in a restaurant kitchen!!!!

Joe Bologna
Joe Bologna
1 month ago

Stop already. We survived on this planet long enough with two distinct types of restrooms and had no issues. You want to start playing games now, add a third one and you can make it fabulous and that can be for whoever wants to use it that doesn’t want to use the men’s or women’s restroom. But don’t infringe on my rights and the privacy and comfort level I’ve enjoyed since I first peed in a public restroom.

Last edited 1 month ago by Joe Bologna
Stephanie Harker
Stephanie Harker
1 month ago

This horrific event took place in a public park, in a gender neutral bathroom with a floor to ceiling, locking door.

SAFETY FIRST.

THINK, before doing something the citizens and the city will regret.

https://abc7.com/sexual-assault-el-sereno-lapd-park/12318080/

Please attend the in-person Public Facilities meeting tonight at 6:30pm. At Plummer Park Community Center Rms 5 and 6

Blind Policy
Blind Policy
1 month ago

The article did not reveal the specifics you indicated. BTW am not in favor of these gender neutral conditions.

Stephanie Harker
Stephanie Harker
1 month ago
Reply to  Blind Policy

Watch the tape from ABC TV, they have photos of the actual crime seen.
Update: thankfully the have caught the suspect.

Blind policy
Blind policy
1 month ago

It was not apparent according to the ABC tape you first included.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

A young woman was raped in WeHo in a gender neutral restroom a few years ago at Here Lounge, now called the Chapel next to the Abbey.

Stephanie Harker
Stephanie Harker
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

Exactly.

I AM SPECIAL BECAUSE.........
I AM SPECIAL BECAUSE.........
1 month ago

Too many decisions inspired by self anointed disadvantaged individuals wherein their grievances are primarily self perpetuated. Making a public spectacle of one’s self either by self serving ideas or behavior actually causes the individual to be less likely to be welcomed into the broader community. “I AM SPECIAL BECAUSE” followed by therefore you should make exceptions for me while I display objectionable behavior.

I ♥️ WeHo
I ♥️ WeHo
1 month ago

shame on you!!

IAM SPECIAL BECAUSE……..
IAM SPECIAL BECAUSE……..
1 month ago
Reply to  I ♥️ WeHo

Unfortunately you missed the point. This was a parody directed at Oliver, Shyne, Erickson, Byers and whoever else is in favor of these toilets and all the other nutty privileges they advocate for the alphabet folks who they claim to be disadvantaged.

Punctuation Matters
Punctuation Matters
1 month ago

Yes, those who seek a gold medal in the Oppression Olympics.

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

The lack of public input pushed by – among others – Councilmember Erickson – is what I find disturbing about too many of the meetings.

City Inspiring Lack of Input
City Inspiring Lack of Input
1 month ago
Reply to  Joshua88

In addition moving too many issues to the Consent Calendar in an attempt to avoid all public comment

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

Agree.

Manny
Manny
1 month ago
Reply to  Joshua88

It all started on February 2021 with “The Robertson Closure” aka Out on Robertson.

Unwilling to wait.
Unwilling to wait.
1 month ago

I have been using any toilet that doesn’t have a line for decades, when I find myself in that situation.

How about a panic button and leave as is?

Randy
Randy
1 month ago

Good point. It disturbs me, every time I go to a concert, such as the Greek Theater, and see a line of women 4 times as long as men. In fact, there is usually no line at all, for the men’s room. I have escorted many a female friend into our “turf.” Sometimes they have even escorted me into the men’s room, and have been like “f**k this noise!”

Unbalanced
Unbalanced
1 month ago

Harmful decisions made by unbalanced people.

Ham
Ham
1 month ago

good grief

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