Park Restrooms a Necessity - Part 1
|MV resident Larry Gilbert|
By Larry Gilbert
This is part one of two addressing the need to provide some form of restrooms in Mission Viejo sports parks. The following concerns and true experiences were expressed by MV parents.
I briefly touched on this topic in both the August and September issues of this newspaper covering the million dollar dog park" and the million dollar special needs playground. Beyond that I have addressed this need at both Community Service and Council Meetings since last fall. It's called priorities. Only nine of our 39 parks have restrooms. Compare that fact to San Clemente whose 18 parks have 13 restrooms for their residents and visitors*.
Our children playing baseball have restrooms at park ball fields, yet the same humanitarian consideration was not extended for our highly used soccer fields. Without consideration of providing any portable or permanent restroom facility needs, our neighborhood parks have been scheduled for AYSO league games where families spend most of a Saturday or Sunday watching their children and grandchildren in action. Despite the City boasting of having millions in developer park fees, the city has not added a single restroom other than the one at Melinda Park, since the March 2006 Master Plan was created.
One resident’s empassioned plea to our city council at the March 17th included the comment that, "Our community members need a private and sanitary place to relieve themselves--our children should not be at risk of disease or embarrassment because there are no facilities." In that speech the resident referenced another parent stating, "As a parent I am concerned that there are no restroom facilities in several parks. There are families of four who frequent our parks to meet with friends or participate in soccer games for our two young sons. I am at fault. Both of my sons have used the bushes for their restroom use during soccer games. My youngest son cried while urinating in the bushes. He was completely mortified by exposing himself in public when urinating in the bushes. He thought he was breaking the law and that he would get in horrible trouble by the police for urinating in public. He was absolutely beside himself that it was completely inappropriate for us to have him urinate in the bushes but it was either that or he would have an accident in his pants which would be humiliating in front of his peers."
The speaker ended her presentation stating, "No more embarrassing moments for our children, elderly or children with special needs. Mission Viejo is not a third world country and we are not animals."
In her Agenda item Council member Cathy Schlicht included the following letter from another resident: "Today I walked out of my house to take my dog for a walk on a beautiful Sunday morning and across the street to Pacific Hills Park, only to find an adult male peeing in the bushes. Imagine my disdain as a mother of 2 daughters and a resident of Pacific Hills for 14 years. Keep in mind this in not the first time I have seen someone peeing in the bushes near this park. And this is not the first time I have complained... this park doesn't have restrooms yet continues to allow large groups of children and adults to use this park as a place to play soccer."
One grandparent turned in a Petition with 173 signatures requesting the addition of restrooms.
He reported that two or three residents had easily obtained these signatures in one day at the games. As AYSO soccer extends beyond local MV, some of those who signed are not from our city but we all need restrooms when spending a full day at the park.
As a fiscal conservative I am not promoting the addition of restrooms in every MV city park. However, for those fields scheduled by the city for AYSO games attended by team players, their parents and grand parents for several hours, there is surely a valid need. These rotating site matches are not across the street from where the families may live. Attendees should not be forced to relieve themselves behind tress or bushes when low cost solutions such as Porta-potties exist.
Part II will cover the city council initial response, stalling tactics, and my assessment.
* Source. http://san-clemente.org/sc/standard.aspx?pageid=132
Larry Gilbert, a retired electronics industry executive, has lived in Mission Viejo since 1977. He is an elected board member of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. Larry is also a former Board Member of South Coast Christian Assembly church and leader of their Senior Ministry.
Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.