Residents give their say on beach restroom options

Residents give their say on beach restroom options
The Oceanside Pier restrooms and plaza are set to be upgraded. The historic bathhouse may be used for a police substation. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — Residents gathered at the third and final community meeting on proposed improvements for the Oceanside Pier beach restrooms and facilities on Wednesday.

Most of those in attendance were clear about their concerns, including Councilwoman Esther Sanchez who said she opposed one of the plans.

Three revised options were shared to provide more restroom stalls, add a new sewer lift station, and give beach police additional space for operations and storage. Plans also sought to improve beach access, increase storage for maintenance and venders, and upgrade landscape and the plaza.

Option one is essentially a no build option, with minimal improvements to the present restrooms housed in the historic bathhouse.

Option two moves beach police into the bathhouse building, and adds a new one story building for single stall unisex restrooms and beach facilities. The plan also widens the Mission Avenue beach stairway, but falls short of making it completely ADA compliant.

Additionally it moves the sewer lift station to the adjacent parking lot, and adds an area for automobiles to drop off passengers on The Strand.

A new sewer lift station will end the unpleasant smell the present station emits. Its relocation will eliminate a sheltered space that is presently used as a homeless encampment.

Option three goes one step further than the second option, and proposes a two-story building with a rooftop terrace. It also includes ADA compliant beach access by providing stairs, ramps and an in-building elevator.

New buildings proposed in options two and three will be built with the east wall in contact with the inland bluff at the site.

Sanchez, who formerly served on the California Coastal Commission, objected to option three for several reasons, including the building wall being up against the bluff. She said the option would not be chosen on her watch.

“The second story doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Sanchez said.

Following the presentation Susan Richard, principal of Safdie Rabines Architects, clarified that the bluff in question is an inland bluff and not significant.

Richard added during discussions with the Coastal Commission commissioners said they prefer any new building to be pushed back from the sand beach, and be adjacent to the bluff.

Nathan Mertz, city project manager, said an earlier plan to build restrooms on the site of a beach picnic area was nixed due to the Coastal Commission’s repeated recommendation to minimize impact to the sand beach.

Input on the project has been gathered over the last year through discussions with the Coastal Commission, beach facility users, and through community meetings and an online survey.

An online survey has gathered 450 responses and shows overwhelming support for option three and the two-story restroom and facility building.

Project architect Ricardo Rabines said option three provides the best use of space and most esthetically pleasing design.

The new building will be made of glass, metal and wood, and be modern in design in keeping with restrictions when constructing next to a historic building.

Richard said she gleaned from Wednesday night’s feedback that the majority of those present preferred something between option one and two.

At the meeting questions were raised on the project’s traffic impact to Pacific Street and The Strand, standards of restroom upkeep, and how space was divvied up.

Mertz said all beach and facility users were considered.

Police requested additional space they need for operations, which peak in summer.

The number of restroom stalls and parking spaces were determined by the average demand throughout the year, and anticipated future growth including an additional beachfront hotel.

There will be up to 14 restroom stalls and 108 parking spaces, adding more of each than there are presently.

Next steps are to present the three proposed plans, and cumulative feedback to the City Council in late August for direction.

Mertz said following City Council direction it would take about two years for plans to go through a review process and building funds to be secured. Costs of improvements are estimated to be in ballpark of $2.5 million to $5 million.

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