OB Planning Board: Kevin and the Amazing Technicolor Toilet

by on July 8, 2010 · 81 comments

in Economy, Environment, Health, Ocean Beach, Popular

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Kevin deFreitas, a local architect, making his presentation before the OB Planning Board on the Brighton Ave "Comfort Station". (Photo: Dan Morales)

In a proposal originally scheduled to run from 6:10 to 6:30 at the Ocean Beach Planning Board this Wednesday evening, Kevin deFreitas, a local architect based in Point Loma, delivered a nearly hour-long sermon on his vision of blending local landscape, culture, and . . . feces.

North OB has been without public facilities since late last year, when the original bathrooms constructed in 1964 were demolished due to concerns about the structural integrity of the roof.

In unveiling his $480,000 plan for the new ‘comfort station’ planned to replace the restrooms near the corner of Brighton and Spray in north OB, deFreitas displayed a handful of slides featuring diagrams and artist renderings, and even passed around a wooden model of the proposed facility.

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Cardboard rendition of restrooms. (Photo by Christina Dallenbach.)

Paramount concerns were keeping with the funky, eclectic vibe of Ocean Beach, designing a facility that would blend in and harmonize with the landscape and, with a nod toward the town’s environmental consciousness, advance the concept of self-sustainability to public restrooms.

The nuts and bolts:

  • The new facility will feature five stalls and two sinks in the women’s room, with two stalls, two urinals, and two sinks on the men’s side.
  • The entrances for the sexes will be separated, with the female entrance facing north toward the parking lot and the male facing south down the beach toward the pier. This design is intended to promote safety by discouraging presumably unsavory men from loitering near the female entrance, and by placing it nearer to the parking lot and attendant lighting.
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Cell phone camera capture of artist's rendering of public restrooms at foot of Brighton Avenue. (Photo by Christina Dallenbach.)

  • Instead of four showers attached to the building as the old bathrooms had, there would be three showers, set off from the main building and partially surrounded by a 42” high privacy wall
  • Ramps for direct restroom access would extend all the way to the parking lot, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • 7 bike racks, allowing for the securing of 14 or more bikes, would be installed on the other side of the shower privacy wall, facing the southern edge of the parking lot.
  • The building would sit 14” above the average sand line, making maintenance easier due to a lower level of windblown sand needing to be removed from the facilities. Stairs would lead from the south edge of the building down to the sand, with ramps on the eastern and western edges.
  • The new building is expected to last at least 50 years, provided it’s maintained properly by the city. There was speculation the old facility could’ve lasted 100, given its construction, but failure to properly care for the bathrooms by the city caused it to rapidly decay to the point of being considered a health and safety hazard after only 45.
  • Gates and locks will be installed on the doors – ostensibly they’re only intended to be used when the facilities are closed for maintenance or repair, though it was stated the city could elect in the future to shut down the bathrooms at a certain hour every night to discourage use in the late evening. At present, the city doesn’t even have the funds to send workers out to lock down and re-open the toilets every day if they wanted to.
  • Solar material would be integrated into the roof of the building. This new technology would eliminate the need for aluminum-lined solar panels, which would run the risk of corrosion, vandalism, or theft. The goal is for solar generation to provide 100% of the power necessary to sustain the structure. There was also talk of water harvesting for re-use on the site, though specifics of the system were not addressed.
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Another view of the cardboard version. (Photo by Christina Dallenbach.)

In addition to the basics, a lot of artistic ‘fluff’ was discussed:

  • The general design for the building was inspired by the raised lifeguard towers that dot the beach, in addition to the pier and native marine life, particularly marine birds.
  • The slope of the roof would be greater than the old building, slightly lower at the center but rising a couple feet higher to nearly 14’ total at the edges. The curve was inspired by the informal ‘logo’ of OB, the seagull with wings spread. In addition to form, the design is intended to add function by rising above the walls of the building and allowing for both natural light and ventilation.
  • The north side of the facility housing the women’s facilities would be shrouded in a blue glazed block meant to appear feminine and evoke thoughts of an ocean wave, while the men’s side would be stark grey cast concrete, emblazoned with a lower case ‘ob’ logo facing the surf.
  • Ripples on the inside of the roof would symbolize the varying characters of OB (I’m not sure how exactly, and wish I had better notes or insight on why the designer thought so), and would also evoke a feeling of ‘relief’ (pun intended, and not by the author).
  • Quotes from local media would also be etched in 6” high letters on the interior of the bathrooms, in circular fashion on the ladies’ side and in a harsh criss-cross pattern on the men’s side. Some of the words destined for immortality (according the the slide show) were even attributed to Frank Gormlie and the OB Rag. (Editor: WTF!!??)
  • LED lights embedded in the ceiling would both cut energy use and provide a soft glow to the facility after dark, providing enough light to meet building codes but not so much as to mar the landscape or disturb nearby residents.

The council, led by Landry Watson, voted unanimously in support of the proposal. Mr. deFreitas stated the designs had already been reviewed by the city for engineering and maintenance standards. With a few minor tweaks, the plans are tentatively scheduled to be submitted to the coastal commission in the coming weeks. Approval there could take up to six months, and the goal is to have the new facilities up and running by summer 2011.

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar jim g July 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

How did they come up with 480 to build ? Is that total cost ?

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 8, 2010 at 11:05 am

That’s per the architect on total cost. If I recall correctly, the original budget discussed when the old bathrooms were demolished was something like $600,000. If that figure’s accurate, my guess would be permitting is expected to run about $120,000, as I doubt anyone would leave any money on the table. I’ll try to dig up old news with the figure as time permits later today…

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avatar doug porter July 8, 2010 at 10:59 am

did they say anything about using waterless urinals? these are safe, sanitary, made here in the region and very cost effective.

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

The only nod toward water conservation was a brief mention of water re-harvesting, but that wasn’t even covered in detail…nothing on waterless urinals, though I have seen them being installed in many other places around town, most notably at the Sports Arena.

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avatar Debbie July 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

I am all for a new “comfort station” but for $480,000 it seems like 4 comfort stations could have been built. That price tag is insane! These are bathrooms with a couple of shower heads outside for goodness sake.

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avatar The "photographer", Christina July 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

Thats what I said, Debbie!!! It’s a bathroom!!

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avatar Debbie July 8, 2010 at 11:45 am

It’s a beach bathroom where dirty and sandy people need to do their business and take a quick shower. Get in and get out! The structure should be a concrete slab, concrete block, roof that is easy to maintain and allows light to reduce the cost of electricity for lights, drains to power hose the place down each day and a few hooks to hang your towel. That doesn’t need to cost $480,000! The city should have a boiler plate bathroom drawing that is applicable to all city bathrooms so one city doesn’t have better bathrooms than another city. And architects and contractors stop ripping off our tax dollars.

The cost is wasteful and unwise. I thought our city was broke? Again, I am all for a bathroom but come on now!

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avatar The "photographer", Christina July 8, 2010 at 11:50 am

It also brings up the question of whether other cities are going to be upset and demand an art potty for themselves. We’re going to be known as the city with the great bathroom…. nice

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avatar jim g July 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

You hit the nail on the head…build 2 small ones instead of of a large fancy sexy one….come on now !

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avatar Debbie July 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

It would be interesting to get info on recent bathroom buildings (say the last 10 years) to see who has designed them, who has built them, the cost per sq. ft. and the condition of them (whether or not they have been maintained). Unfortunately I am not retired so I don’t have the time to put into such a project but I feel that somehow OB and the city are getting ripped off. Faulconer should be jumping on this and so should every other council representative or want to be candidate. I will be interested to read other comments. Have a pleasant day!

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avatar Sarah July 8, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Funny you should ask… here’s an article on the facility built at Kellog Park in La Jolla in 2005. budget: $550,000.00

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avatar jim g July 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

Well from what I saw of the other building, repair work could have been done for 20k or so…its a block shell with limited features….some concrete was spalling and it needed routine maintenance…typicall city deal.

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avatar jim g July 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

yeah drive around OB …the bathroom fits with the community…right……rusted dinghed up cars….unkempt yards, litter, cig butts dog crap all over the curbs and sidewalks….BUTT a great place to cop a squat !!

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avatar Chris Moore July 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I think it looks pretty cool.

Better than most public crappers by far ;)

I have questions about the price, but are we sure that’s any more than a plainer-looking similar structure would cost to build?

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avatar jim g July 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm

People in OB are not ostentatious simple is good.
From my 30+ years in construction fancy styles cost money to build.
Plain and functional please its just a bathroom ….you dont want people living in it…..If its to nice it will end up with cots in it and coleman stoves in the corner….

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avatar Seth July 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Danny, thanks for the article. Having attended a couple of the meetings on this, much credit to the Kevin Oliver and the City of SD staff, as well as the designers and many community members who contributed to this process and design.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can definitely say that the prevailing strategy was essentially to replace the failed structure as quickly and cheaply as possible. Beyond that, there was consideration given to also making the structure more aesthetically pleasing.

Sticker shock aside, people should really understand that this was actually not a particularly extravagant project in terms of costs. People should not confuse good design with expensive. The new structure needed to meet new codes and will likely serve tens of millions of people over a period of 60-75 years.

Other people can elaborate on all of this better than I, but in my personal opinion, this process involved a lot of civic-minded people working in the interest of the community, and it appears as if it will result in a great final product in the short term. That’s a win for OB, in my book.

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Seth, Dave Rice wrote this post. Danny was there and took one of our photos.

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avatar Seth July 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Ah geez… thanks. Good work, Dave.

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avatar jim g July 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

people ike to spend play money…not realizing that is OUR money…
IF City staff is darn good why did the other structure fall apart……
seth are u a city worker ?

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avatar Seth July 8, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Jim, I am not a city worker. I am one of the reps on the OB Planning Board, but not speaking on their behalf here. I do feel that this has been a pretty transparent process, — which is still ongoing — and this blog even had a recent article advertising last night’s meeting. Not saying that people shouldn’t be concerned about costs, but I definitely don’t feel the intent (or result) here was to be extravagant. There were actually many rational explanations associated with the process, costs and design considerations, and I encourage anyone interested to follow up on that. My take is that the city staff were rather competent and open to community input on this project. For whatever it is worth, the previous structure was built in 1964, and surely withstood a lot of use and elements in its lifespan.

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avatar jim g July 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

like to spend play money…that should have been…

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avatar OB Cindi July 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I wish we had MORE shower stalls and two buildings instead of just one. Day late and a dollar short–OBRag went to the Town Council Meeting on the Homeless and asked for this bathroom back in February. What’s taking so long? Summer is already over, and wasn’t that the point? To have good facilities to make the tourists want to come back?

And why do the port-a-potties get all lumped together by dog beach? Couldn’t they spread them out at the end of each street, or was it impossible to get them up on the sand?

Oh no….I just became a whiner and not a do-er. Not good, not good. *shaking my head at myself*

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 8, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Editorializing: while I left the meeting certainly impressed with the project, I’ve got the same budgetary concerns everyone else does – and I’d like to see a third facility between the north beach and the lifeguard station. My main concern is that if all this dough gets dumped into building this thing that the city properly maintains it…I agree with the sentiments that proper maintenance on the old ugly yet functional facility could’ve kept it alive for another 30-40 years. Even after the city let it fall into disrepair, it could’ve likely been rehabbed for a fraction of the cost of new construction. But the old building is gone, and if this is what’s going to replace it, I’m glad the design looks good and I hope they can just get to work already. We’ve already been without anything proper for the better part of a year, and now we’re looking at almost another before anything new shows up.

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 9, 2010 at 7:54 am

We apologize Cindi for the bad manners of a former commenter that we didn’t catch until this morning. No one here should have to endure the language that some people leave. We did edit it out, but again somewhat late. Sorry about that.

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avatar OB Proud July 8, 2010 at 6:12 pm

The $480k budget was determined by the City, not the architect. If you want your voice heard, why chirp on a blog when you could have attended any of the three public meetings the project was presented at, to share your thoughts and be apart of the dialogue? I think if the City had proposed a crappy builiding, you would have been singing the blues that OB is the ugly step sister and was short changed again by the folks at City Hall. The location is beautiful, be thankful for a buiding that attempted to be thoughtful, appropriate, sustainable, and that recognizes the unique culture of OB.

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avatar justmy2cents July 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm

chirp…the old building could have been repaired for 20k…nuf said.

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avatar Debbie July 9, 2010 at 8:25 am

I thought a blog was for chirpping? Many thanks Mr. Watson for your comments and information. I still believe the cost is a rip off. Shame on our city for allowing such a budget for a bathroom. It’s time for our city to start changing the way they do business and spend our tax dollars. Public projects should not cost 4 times the norm. Why should such an inflated charge be acceptable? There must be a way to reduce costs. A standard design should be set so all cities have comparable bathroom facilities (southeast san diego will never see such a pretty bathroom). An RFP should go out for one contractor to building all bathrooms for xyz number of years based on a fixed cost with some allowance for increased cost in building materials and conditions in the area of construction plus a $ amount of profit.

Again, I agree with we need a bathroom but not at this cost. A bathroom is like a car. It serves a certain function. You can buy one at $10K that does the same thing as $100K. Uniqueness for a standard design bathroom can be the wall art on the exterior to fit the uniqueness of the community. The wall art can be completed by and paid for by community members.

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avatar Landry Watson July 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Great points and questions here. As a member of the OBPB and also as a member of the Committee, let me try to provide some feedback and information on how the Committee made some critical decisions.

Since the original structure (built in 1964) was indeed deemed a safety hazard by the City, the project was allowed to be financed through emergency funds on reserve already allocated in the budget for 2009. Emergency funds are utilized to replace similar services to a location in an expedited manner and are not used for new capital improvements (such as a restroom at a new location). If it hadn’t been deemed an emergency, we would have had to wait until funding would have been appropriated at an unknown time. So, the fact that the building managed to fall apart after almost 45 years was actually fortunate for OB for a few reasons.

Dept of Parks and Rec typically plans for approx $500k for a similar ground up structure with similar services (water, power, concrete or masonry walls and a roof). So, the current budget at approx $480k is right at the budget and the materials used are not significantly more expensive than the very institutional block house you are describing. I’ll echo my fellow OBPB member Seth’s comments above, a nice design doesn’t necessarily mean an expensive one. I’ll also agree with the comments that say the price tag is exorbitant. The price of doing construction in public works is easily a factor of four compared to a similar structure built in the private sector. This is a public works project appropriated and funded by the City and therefore the large pricetag for even such a modest structure.

Because the location of the restroom is within the State California Coastal Commission (CCC) deferred zone, the group decided it would be critical to help expedite the process by choosing to build on the same site with a very similar structure as the previous structure in order to avoid Environmental Review and added scrutiny by the CCC. By keeping a similar profile and height, the project has a much better chance at an expedited review and approval by the Commission (which is outside of the City’s ability to permit by itself). Any change in location or the addition of other structures, height or size would have incurred the cost of environmental reviews and the added construction cost of bringing services (power, water, sewer) to a new location (which, by the way, is the main cost of a ground up site with similar services). As the project is presented now and from preliminary reviews by CCC staff, this project will be expedited and not trigger an environmental review. We hope :)

Last thing to mention is that because this structure is in the Coastal deferred zone, there is a moratorium on ALL construction in this zone from Memorial Day to Labor Day every year. Therefore, it was decided by the group and City Staff that not even a square block house could have been permitted and finished prior to the 2009 building season. Therefore, we decided to make lemonade and allow for some consideration for a different (and hopefully more appealing) design.

As for a wise use of tax money and also whether or not this will become the nicest building in Ocean Beach – Well… We didn’t choose for the building to fall over, but we’ve done something clearly unique with that situation and we wouldn’t have received the funding if it hadn’t been deemed unsafe. Earlier this year the OBPB approved the drawings for the upgrade to the OB Library which will indeed be the communty’s most iconic building upon the approval of that funding. Until then…we may indeed have the nicest jon on the coast.

There were numerous other considerations over the past year working to provide OB with the best design while replacing the services we need at the beach to enjoy our open space and to provide for our visitors services so that they will continue to come visit. We should never forget that Ocean Beach Park (the beach from the Pier to the Jetty) is a Regional attraction and brings tourist income to the economic engine of OB.

I’d like to personally thank Kevin and Shinpei for their hardwork and also the City Staff Kevin and Elif. They have provided excellent guidance and passion to the project to finalize the design and we have every confidence that City Staff will bring in the project during the upcoming building season.

And also thank all of the people here for your interest and comments although I would have preferred to meet you face-to-face and answer your questions last night at the meeting or any of the committee meetings over the past year. Hope these comments are helpful. Please contact me anytime: landrywatson.obpb@yahoo.com

Landry Watson
District 1, OBPB

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Thanks for your expanded comments and point of view, Landry, especially concerning the construction timeframe and budgetary concerns. We would’ve loved to stick around and chat with you after the meeting, but time constraints forced us out early. I think comments from those in attendance that did choose to speak up, as well as from the board itself, were definitely constructive. Knowing that we can’t get everything we need (like an additional facility) in one fell swoop, this design is certainly appealing. When do we get the next update on the permit process?

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avatar doug porter July 9, 2010 at 8:41 am

wow. thanks for responding with all those facts and figures. it sounds as though you guys did your homework!
it’s too bad the City can’t/won’t get into the waterless urinal business. I had them installed on properties I managed in the Caribbean a few years back (where ground water & sewage disposal are serious issues) and the savings (water use/energy) were fantastic.

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avatar La Playa Heritage July 8, 2010 at 7:10 pm

http://www.portlandonline.com/water/index.cfm?c=48561

The David Ross “The Waterman” and the Girls Think Tank recently got CCDC to fund 7 Portland Loo bathrooms in downtown. The bathrooms cost $87,000 each and $20,000 for installation.

If the inexpensive bathrooms are a hit in downtown, and the public likes the results, the Portland Loos can be put all over San Diego on public property using extra $228 million in Community Development Block Grants.

http://lastblogonearth.com/2010/06/21/skip-to-the-loo/

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avatar Scott Matthews July 8, 2010 at 7:31 pm

I work in the construction industry and I attended the meeting before this one. I don’t believe the design changed much since then, but I can say that the design is very modest and thoughtful (as well as durable). Trufthfully $500,000 doesn’t go far in construction- especially under government management. The art on the roof is a little bit crazy but it is a “required public art” commission as a part of all city projects.

The building will be have a solar system but the architect said the city would not allow a grey-water system or waterless urinals because of maintenance and code issues. Also the project manager noted the building moratorium through the summer, so construction couldn’t begin until the end of August (I believe).

Anyway, all for a cool sh*tt*ng experience right?

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

Enough of this bathroom humor!!!

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avatar Debbie July 9, 2010 at 9:54 am

What about the toilet paper? Will it have our OB seagull embossed on each sheet? Does the city pay 4 times more for toilet paper too? Got to have some humor on this issue :-)

Whose gonna be the first to use this comfort station? Maybe the city can sell some raffle tickets and raise some money. Bring the media….the Rag, Reader, Citybeat, Faulconer, Mayor, Voice, Flannery, and a band….let’s make a party out of new pooper!

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avatar Sarah July 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

Naming rights… I see income generation here

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 9, 2010 at 10:03 am

Sarah, you hit it girl! Naming rights to each toilet and each stall, yeah! This is the way we can pay for it. Can we nominate people ourselves? For the first seat, I nominate ….. hmmmm, too many choices. I’ll have to get back wid ya…

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 9, 2010 at 11:19 am

Can I buy the naming rights on behalf of someone else? How much would it cost to sponsor an etched Dubya portrait in one of the urnial bowls?

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

hahaha Debbie. “let’s make a party out of a new pooper!” Just take your mind out of da toilet, girl!

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avatar Jeffrey Eckert July 9, 2010 at 8:58 am

I wish they would have saved some of that money to put some kind of self contained facilities over by Dog Beach. Maybe just Port -a-Potties but it would be nice to have someplace to relieve ones self rather than “pinching it” and rushing to the Spray& Brighton Station. Maybe that is still possible. I know my wife who spends a good amount of time at Dog Beach would appreciate it, especially after having a “grande” coffee at the various coffee shops around town.

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 9, 2010 at 11:33 am

I think most all of us can agree we’d have liked to cheap out and use the savings to add an extra facility or two instead of putting so much into this one. Two problems, explained pretty well by Landry Watson of the OBPB above, stopped this from happening.

First, everything that the city does costs four times as much as it should. All the outrage in the world isn’t going to change this. Some of the extra expenses (like paying union contractors a living wage) I can agree with, some (like paying the proposal writer to draw up what was probably a 30,000 word request for bids) seem frivilous. But that’s a bigger issue than any conversation in the scope of this project can address.

Second, the money is coming from ’emergency funds,’ and therefore has to be used to replace an existing structure that’s been lost. So even if it were possible to spend less on replacing existing facilities, our community would just get less money instead of being able to spend the remainder on upgrades like extra buildings.

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avatar john July 10, 2010 at 2:01 am

Landry covered a third one as well:

“and the added construction cost of bringing services (power, water, sewer) to a new location (which, by the way, is the main cost of a ground up site with similar services).”

Other than that we’ve got self contained services….. porta potties, which I personally wouldn’t go near on a bet unless an emergency calls. They’re great for fulla-beer-drunk peeing, because in that state you don’t care how gross it is nor should you complain as it was drunks like yourself that made it that way.

I think the design looks as unremarkable as it should, though if it were me I’d have put some random glass blocks in the walls to brighten the place up inside. The old facility was always so dark and nasty inside, even on sunny days.
I am assuming each side has a similar changing area as the old ones did with benches?
And what’s the deal with the sexual inequity between the facilities?
Five stalls VS two stalls/two urinals. Do the math! Monkeyland had 500 monkeys on almost the same site, me thinks no such sexist offenses existed in those days.
The men’s facility should have an additional urinal with measuring marks which facilitate distance peeing contests. Or it’s just not fair. We’ll take glass blocks in the dividing wall as as a concession. (we’re SO unsavory!)

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 10, 2010 at 9:49 am

Thanks for catching me on that third costly omission. As far as the lighting goes, there’s going to be a significantly larger gap between the top of the wall and the roof (see in the pictures how the roofline slants upward), that’s expected to let in more sunlight than before.

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avatar Kenloc July 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Everything is expensive nowadays boys and girls.500k to construct a new building with alot of plumbing sounds about right. Americans want to make top dollar at work but want to pay the cheapest prices for products.That’s why everything is made in China and India now. If only we could figure out a way to get some 13 year old Chinese girls here to build us a bathroom.hmmmmm………

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avatar Brenda McFarlane July 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

As a person with artistic tendencies, I am dismayed when a discussion of an artist’s vision is described as “artistic fluff”. While I would personally love more bathrooms (I live near the Narragansett stairs which serves as a stomach churning de facto toilet), I don’t think functionality is everything. I wouldn’t be happy to see San Diego rebuilt by the utilitarian architects of communist era Bucherest, for example, but they sure understood the value of concrete slab.

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 10, 2010 at 9:51 am

You’re right Brenda, ‘fluff’ probably wasn’t the best word to describe the artistic consideration for the project. What I meant to imply was that I was moving away from talking about the strictly functional aspects of the property and into auxillary concerns…

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avatar john July 10, 2010 at 11:58 am

I think most of OB would agree with you on artistic merits, it’s just in these tough times we don’t like to see frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars on it. Many times the most publicized examples of it amount to an exhibit featuring your narragansett stomach turner a la carte encased with a cross in acrylic so there is precedent for them to feel scrutiny is necessary.
The beauty of any art is in the eye of the beholder and is rarely forced. The Hungarian “slabs” you reference are a stunning backdrop on youtube for some of the more accomplished practitionists of parkour, or freerunning, a mixture of gymnastics meets daredevil wearing felony shoes played to hip hop in economically depressed Eastern European cities, by teenagers whose genes were surely refined for olympic hopes by the “state” under the old Soviet rule. Don’t know if this is actually Hungary, which was a center its beginning, but this is one of the best freerunners:
(video removed by Youtube)
yes, that’s a 5 story building at 2:02 he attacks like your backyard fence.
At 4:05 that’s your backyard fence.
These brothers display some of the more artistic aspects of parkour:

Just some food for thought. The most memorable art forms are borne of spontaneous expression in often unlikely palettes and media, if the government has to put it up for bid and public review it spoils it all.
(For sure these kids would be wearing crash helmets and pads.)

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avatar Up The Hill July 10, 2010 at 10:30 am

Reading through all the comments about the new “comfort station”, two themes become apparent: 1) The good folks of OB are incredibly fiscally conservative (how Republican!) and actually embarrased that they should get public restroom that costs as much as one built anywhere else in the city, by the City. And 2) The City, the architect, and the public artist actually made a significant effort to design a project that reflects the unique character of OB and its inhabitants-yet many of the respondents sarcastically comment that the proposed structure is wasteful and over done.

Based on Dave Rice’s exhasutive transcript of the building’s design feature, like natural ventilation, natural daylighting, nightime security lighting, exterior showers that don’t require one step into 3″ of standing liquid to use, bike racks, handicap accessibility, and a solar system that generates 100% of the bathroom’s energy use. I for one don’t see the frivolity in these features and would like to City and the design team for creating something other than a dumb ugly box. I can’t wait to see this bathroom get built and look forward to seeking “comfort” there when it is done!

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avatar doug porter July 10, 2010 at 11:51 am

right on. but who are we going to name it after? can we selling the naming rights? How about “Hodad’s North Beach Pit Stop” or “Gary Gilmore’s Jewel of the Sun” or “Pat’s Liquor Pee Hole” ?????

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avatar john July 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

“can we selling the naming rights? ”

After all the unfair attacks on Frank by the Black’s owner for questionable native status, you have to come out and say the most unobecian thing possible… okay, we’ll have to strip you of your gull wings for that one. Get the scraper, boys….

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avatar doug porter July 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm

sorry about the bad grammar. not enough coffee… lol

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avatar john July 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm

no, no, the grammatical error gives you street cred in this case as a product of California public schools and not some Ivy league or UK prep school rooming with Tony Blair or John Kerry, plotting how you’ll invade countries for a legacy.
It was the uber capitalist trend of selling out public works projects to dot com and cell phone companies who are hoped to last longer than the contracts do that motivated the comment.
Look how much OB has changed from the “US out of OB” days.
I mean my landlord actually wants the rent! The nerve of the guy!
How many people know that for years right at the entrance of Dog Beach on W Pt Loma, the best rent deal in town was had by the guy living in a treehouse in someone’s front yard with running water and electricity? That’s what the hell I’m talking about. When they took the utilities underground someone figured it out and outed him.

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avatar Sarah July 10, 2010 at 2:04 pm

As a self-educated, well-read high school dropout street kid, I resent the implication that only Ivy League graduates are able to write with proper grammar.

There is nothing in a properly-punctuated paragraph or a well-turned phrase that is indicitive of capalist tendencies.

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avatar john July 11, 2010 at 3:17 am

Once in awhile I need to be reminded that my florishing prose tends to obfuscate the underlying points. You and I probably have similar backgrounds, I completed 11th grade and in 1979 facing 25% unemployment rates in a small mountain town in Northern California, destroyed the GED (well if you can call being first to finish it in a cafeteria of 500 students and passing that) and with college miles out of financial reach, went in the navy.
Did you learn to read very early? I skipped most of kindergarten as a result of tonsillitis, chicken pox and measles in succession. Mom home schooled me and I entered first grade reading “Reader’s Digest condensed novels” at about an hour each, so far ahead of the rest of the class I became a disciplinary problem. Thus when I got home when I was sent to my room for punishment, all there was to do was to hide myself in the contents of a bookcase my parents had stored in my room- an entire set of Funk and Wagnalls AND Encyclopedia Brittanica, the Time/Life series of hardcover reference, and an ever refreshing set of boxes containing Grandma’s National Geographic issues.
K-11 I never, not once, had a single evening of homework.
What was indicitive (sic, :-p) of capitalist tendancies was the crack about selling naming rights, I was really just trying to razz Doug about that and didn’t care about his composition errors, I see those all the time and rarely make much of it.
Here I am some 40 years after getting the highest pre semester reading placement scores of any student in my grade (2nd) in the entire Santa Clara County Unified School District, (600 wpm, reached nearly 1000 by 6th grade) placing second in the countywide spelling bee in Tuolumne County 6 years later, have debated MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and held my own (actually I was killing him on the issues) and yet I am as big a loser as (nearly) anyone I know.
Lots of people have mastery of the English language.
I was dropping the Ivy League prep student reference for some street cred in the anti-war oriented OB Rag, or at least show my opinions can be self effacing. Decidedly less than successful.

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avatar Sarah July 11, 2010 at 2:58 pm

My tongue was firmly planted in my cheek when I wrote that, and you’re right. We have very similar backgrounds. Though I never debated Noam Chomsky. I am young yet, I suppose it could still happen.

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avatar john July 11, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Okay, sorry I didn’t pick up on that.
FWIW Chomsky was gracious yet stubborn and we finally had to part company after about ten emails between us with the linguistics professor bizarrely attempting to waffle on redefining the meaning of the word “sole” rather than concede his claim in an op-ed column I’d challenged was in fact an error.
It was as surreal as it sounds, I finished by suggesting he’d spent so many years in the mud with corrupt government officials maybe he’d begun to use their tactics without realizing it. Still think he’s great though.

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avatar ClubStyle_DJ July 11, 2010 at 11:35 am

I can think of another person this beach crapper should be named after. Can you guess who I nominate? anyone?… anyone?

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avatar Debbie July 11, 2010 at 12:25 pm

SPACEMAN

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avatar Debbie July 10, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I see nothing embarrassing or republican about being fiscally conservative. Our city should not have to spend a 1/2 Mil to reflect the character of OB. Most of the houses in OB wouldn’t cost 1/2 mil to rebuild…the land is worth more than the structure on it. No need to criticize getting more for less….especially to help this homeless issue that continues to be a concern in our community. It’s just a bathroom…in the zone! Now whooping up the new library that will be seen by all entering into our community is something that needs a design.

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avatar Kenloc July 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I have to disagree with you Debbie.Have you seen the prices homes are selling for in OB? Some of them are 40 to 90 years old. Home prices in OB are anywhere from 400k(condo) to 1 million plus. Which,in my opinion,is whats changing the most about OB.People who are buying $500,000 plus houses are not renting them out.They are living in the house. Who can afford to buy such homes? People that make good money. Homeowners/occupiers tend to care about the community they live in more than landlords and renters.and there you have it.People don’t like homeless folks around.people what the town to look cleaner.Some call it gentrification,others call it progress.I call it inevitable

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avatar Debbie July 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I am not an argumentative person and don’t have the need to be right. My opinion has to do with the cost the city has ALLOWED to construct a public bathroom. Kenloc you are talking about sales price/market price. I am speaking of construction cost/replacement cost (a basic 800 square foot house would cost b/w 160K to $260K to reconstruct). I am not speaking of the value of the land which varies based on the size and location of the lot. Feel free to still disagree with me but I believe we are not talking about the same terms. I do agree there are many places in OB that are old and showing signs of age. It doesn’t help our community that the people SOME that live in them or SOME that own them do little to improve them, make them look better or keep them clean. I guess that is where tolerance comes into play in OB.

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avatar Kenloc July 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm

try and get a home rebuilt.a small 800 sq ft home.in a beach area in san diego on a lot you own.permits and fees and everything included its gonna be 500k easy,depending on what you want

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avatar Kenloc July 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm

disagreeing with you is not arguing with you =)I love that you care aboout ob!

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avatar just my 2 cents July 10, 2010 at 9:19 pm

You are mistaken. Do a little research first before making remaks like this.
If you own the dirt you can build a nice place for $200 a foot right now. If you want Rancho Sante Fe double it…..

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avatar Kenloc July 11, 2010 at 9:20 am

2oo per foot?for what?a stripped down box? when building a new home most people don’t opt for the cheapest of everything dude.if you think you can get all the permits and build a decent home in a beach location for 200 per foot YOU are mistaken.perhaps you can reference articles on people trying to rebuild on land they own after the fire burned it down. most cetainly more than you estimate.perhaps we should only spend 100 on an outhouse and rebuild it again in a few years

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avatar just my 2 cents July 11, 2010 at 9:59 am

Perhaps the other structure should have been fixed.It was not falling down it had some concrete spalling and minor repair work that needed to be done that could have been done as a temp fix so at LEAST the beach had a comfort station , while this design process went on. That could have been done for under 20k I looked at the property and photographed it extensively. But the city deceided to tear it down and leave OB without a bathroom now thats smart. Oh I forgot the porta pottys are up…nice .
As far as cost goes is this comfort station going to have costly flooring, windows, appliances, etc ??? I have spent 30 years in construction, both commerical and residential. I have worked with the City of San Diego and Private Companies . Just so you know the $ 200 figure is accurate. Plus permitting etc….
Last I looked the comfort station is a box at least they used to be….The city is broke but they don’t act like it.
People all over this country are settling for less due to the economy….and OB needs a bathroom with artistic merit ?? come on…

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avatar Kenloc July 11, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I agree,they should have just repaired the old facility.

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avatar Up the Hill July 10, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I also disagree with you Debbie! The comfort station is in arguably the most beautiful location in OB, on the sand with on the ocean , sunsets and the horizon behind it. To place a thoughtless building (regardless that is a just a humble public restroom) would be to desacrate the naturally gorgeous site. And while the new library is sure to be a gem and indeed it is on a visually prominant location, especially for those in cars, I would be willing to bet a lot of money, that the restroom will serve far more visitors on an annual basis by a factor of 10. I would also venture to say that for every one out of the non-OBecians to visit the library probably 40 will visit the comfort station, why not leave them with a positive impression of our community?

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avatar just my 2 cents July 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm

The most beautiful location in OB….have you been to the cliffs ??
What a statement .

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avatar Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Have you been on them where the beach ends and the cliffs start since the booze ban was enacted?

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avatar Up the Hill July 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I think you also misunderstood the previous post. No one said being fiscally conservative is embarrassing! The statement was that comments left on this blog about the City’s budget don’t realize is that the City has an establish cost for building comfort stations based on fixture counts and square footages. The budget for a comfort station in RB, OB, Barrio Logan, Clairemont, etc. is effectively the same. If you want to argue the Labor Unions stranglehold on City Hall and why they pay an inflated prevailing wage rather than a much lower market rate for their construction services that in an entirely seperate debate. Therefore, in my mind is if the City’s budget is fixed at +$480k to replace this neighborhood serving facility would you prefer a mindless rectangular concrete block structure or a building that aspires to something better?

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avatar Debbie July 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Grand is better…it will give users something to dream about maybe even get them to move to OB because of the beautiful bathroom and the design will encourage users to respect the building and there will be no tagging . While we are at … let’s have an attendent to hand towels to those that wash their hands. Let’s just do it up and and be the best bathroom in the west. Now, I would support that concept!

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avatar Up the Hill July 10, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Uncle! Debbie you actually convinced me of your point. OB deserves, and thus should demand, mediocrity. Let’s ask the City do build a rectangular box special, (though remember it will still cost +$480k), but at least everyone will feel better about it.

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avatar Kenloc July 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

hell yeah!an attendant with hand towels!can he distribute gum and dispense cologne too)

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avatar Seth July 10, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Again, I’m not the most qualified person to speak on this, but just wanted to add a couple of additional thoughts based on some of the points being raised in this discussion.

#1 – The art and design of this building are a rather small portion of the costs here. It’s not like this structure is going to be built out of gold bricks with Michelangelo’s statue of David outside. On the art component, the City essentially spent a couple of grand commissioning a creative paint job (which I like, personally). The art and design aspect was not some massive excess of taxpayer dollars, as rebuilding the previous structure to modern codes would essentially cost the same amount of money.

#2 – In terms of alternative structures/fixtures, it is probably important to keep in mind that this structure is going to be located ON the actual beach, and will have to withstand a whole lot of sand and natural elements. Those self-cleaning toilets linked above that are in places like Portland and SF would probably last about a week in this location. I do know that it was also presented that part of the design is attempting to mitigate future maintenance and energy costs, as well as maximizing public safety.

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avatar Kenloc July 10, 2010 at 8:33 pm

excellent points Seth

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avatar Catherine July 12, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Well I like the new design. I don’t think aesthetics are unimportant and think some critics have unrealistic ideas about the cost of construction, masonry and plumbing. Given the background provided here by Seth and Landry, $480K doesn’t seem crazy to me for something like this.

This is the first I’ve seen it, and I really appreciate all the effort that’s gone into making it nice. I love the slope in the roof. How are we going to keep it from being trashed?

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avatar Dave Beekman July 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

So the last post was a year ago… Where are we with this.. ?

I have been holding off going to the beach for too long now…. Time is running out…

Anyone ?

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avatar editordude July 18, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Dave – yeah, the saga continues; go here for more recent: http://obrag.org/?p=39400

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avatar Botanique Condo September 12, 2014 at 4:03 am

Great post. I’m facing a few of these issues as well..

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avatar Paulene Lowery March 1, 2016 at 1:07 am

Timely blog post – For my two cents , people a a form , my husband used a sample version here .

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