New Ocean Beach Brighton Restrooms – Local and Artsy But Without Stall Doors

by on July 30, 2012 · 34 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach, Popular

New Comfort Station Opens to Rave Reviews … But the Stalls Don’t Have Doors

OB Rag T-shirt Contest to Find Hidden Text (scroll down)

It’s been nearly a month now since the new public restrooms at the foot of Brighton Avenue in Ocean Beach opened.  And the innovative, design-busting “comfort station” opened to rave reviews from City Hall to San Diego  CityBeat.  The crazy and weird and cool design elements of the building and its immediate vicinity are far-out, dude.

Artist Shinpei Takeda adds some finishing touches to his art ceiling.

Here’s a sampling of what the new facility has to offer:

  • Nice, roomy restroom interior areas, with changing table for infants in both men’s and women’s rooms;
  • Inside benches allow visitors to sit down while they change or wait
  •  A water fountain
  • three accessible exterior showers with a privacy wall
  • v-shaped roof forms the definitive seagull wings in flight, invoking the popular O.B. “flying seagull” emblem.
  • Solar panels generate energy allowing structure to have “net zero”;  naturally lit and ventilated
  • a bench around it shaded by its roof.
  • 6 Bike racks
  • large, orange “OB” on one of its sides.
  • old photograph of Wonderland used for the mural base by artist  Shinpei Takeda
  • geometric shape without a single 90-degree angle along the entire wall
  •  Design concept by local firm Kevin deFreitas Architects and artwork by former Ocean Beach resident Shinpei Takeda;
  • art depicts the Ocean Beach shoreline

We have covered the demolition of the restrooms in 2008 ad naseum, the design process, and the weird bid and construction process that then took 3 years. So, we won’t revisit all that right now.

What we do bring up, however, is that despite the local design, etc., and the $1.2 million that was spent on the new facility, the comfort station fails to include stall doors in both the women’s and men’s portions of the facility.  In other words, except for the disabled stalls (one for each gender) – which do have doors – there are no doors for the stalls.

This is a huge complaint from women we heard who had visited the restrooms. Without doors to the stalls, we were told, there is no privacy, especially if you have small children.  One woman mused sarcastically that she couldn’t wait to see the line for the only stall that has protection.

In addition, unlike many public restrooms, there is no splash guard between the men’s urinals in this new, state-of-the-art facility.

OB Rag T-Shirt Contest to Find Missing Text

When the place first was opened around July 4th, a U-T San Diego article ran that mentioned that quotes from the OB Rag were included in some of the text that makes up the ceiling artwork. After studying the ceilings in both sides, we could not find any evidence or demonstration that anything from our pages has been included.

So, we’re running a T-shirt contest; find the text, photograph it and send it to us. The first one with any evidence that the OB Rag was quoted wins an OB Rag T-shirt in their size.  Just email us :

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Mercy July 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I have been in the new bathrooms several times now, and there is always a line for the only stall with a door. The young girls especially, will not do their biz without a door they have told me. And just yesterday, I witnessed a woman walking in, seeing the line and said forget it and walked out! I told her the line was only for the stall with a door and she thanked me and went back in. That means, the new bathrooms are losing beach goers when they see the line. What the hell were the designers thinking?? Obviously, they weren’t. The rest of the design does rock, but they need to go back in and install doors.


Seth July 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Tough crowd. Stall doors would probably get broken on a weekly basis. That is, when they weren’t being used to shield sex and drug use. I get that there is some “lady business” where a door is preferable, but if you or your kid are just taking a leak, get over it. So be it… people are going to complain no matter what, but I think it’s a fantastic, cost-effective and functional design. Architect did a great job. Took a while, but well done in the end.


liveinOB July 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm

well said Seth!


RB July 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Lines in the women’s restroom……Gee, I have never heard of this happening before.


Debbie July 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm

1.2 Million and NO DOORS??? WTF!!! So tax paying respectable people can’t have doors because some piece of trash might do drugs? Unreal……

Some goofball thought artseeeee was necessary to pee? Stop/enough. The building should have basic similar to what’s is at Sail Bay at Fanuel. Individual stalls that you go in close the door and do your business and leave. Shows are best outside. Keep it simple keep it clean.

For $1.2 Mil …. there could have been more bathrooms built in OB. Wasteful! You want art get a grant for art or better yet there are probably many in OB that would be happy to donate their talents and materials.


Jack Hamlin July 31, 2012 at 8:40 am

I could not agree more….less art, more pee and poo places….


Seth August 1, 2012 at 12:19 am

I think the artist got like $10k, but don’t let that stop your non-informed opinion from speaking authoritatively on a process you didn’t even participate in.


craig July 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm

No stall doors……. not reason to get pissed off.LOL


Patty Jones July 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I find it very interesting that, in a society where a naked swimmer or a topless woman on the beach warrants the police being called, or peeing outdoors can have you branded as a sex offender, we should just “get over it” when asking for a little privacy in a “public” restroom.


Seth July 31, 2012 at 12:20 am

I didn’t mean to come across as insensitive, Patty. I get the point, and have had to change diapers for two young children in a number of public bathrooms myself. Can’t recall every bit of reasoning for every decision made in the construction of this bathroom, and think the process illustrated flaws in the bid process system for public works projects and the general dysfunction of the City in general, but in 4 years on the Planning Board, it was probably one of the few projects where I was impressed with both the end result and everyone who participated in the process. To the best of my recollection, there were concerns about vandalism with regard to the doors (which require more cost and maintenance), and likely the doors providing a shelter for illegal activities. I am not an “trolls go home” person, but living a block from the lifeguard station for 5 years now, I have very little doubt that both concerns are valid. FWIW, ADA requirements may dictate doors on those stalls.

There was basically no getting around the fact that this was going to be a cheap and basic cinder block monolith, just like the last restroom was. With that in mind… wow, great job by the architect and artist and the project managers involved. It is a funky, iconic building that reflects the character of the community.


Patty Jones August 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hey Seth, sorry it took me so long to get back and read your reply. And sorry if I seemed a little snarky in my initial comment.

Building a bathroom without doors just seems to me like another instance where the actions of a few dictate what the rest of us have to deal with.


barbara July 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Many newer restrooms tout this design. True,the door can be damaged and will be damaged but privacy is worth something. La Jolla Shores, OldTown park even Chollas Lake have mini rooms surrounding the building and plenty of sinks to wash up in.


Frank Gormlie July 30, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Just for the record, men prefer stall doors as well.


dave rice July 30, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I also like partitions between urinals. Two bucks’ worth of hardware and another two worth of divider material would go a long way…


OB Mercy July 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Ok, so one guy (Frank) on here likes doors. Bottom line, men are used to peeing in front of each other in urinals, women are not. Whilst it doesn’t bother me now at my advanced age to pee in front of others, imagine being a pre teen or teen and being very shy about those most private of bodily functions in front of others. Have a heart, understand that it is VERY important to a lot of women that stalls have doors.


jim grant July 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm

The bathrooms at shelter island have no doors , who cares when you gotta go you go …Everybody so shy all the sudden When several stories here on this web page featured dildos lube and the like and another about an old woman trying to get laid etc ………OH But now we can bitch at something we all bitched about not having for 3 years ….gezz talk about bitching if they hung you with a new rope ….


Debbie July 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

The bathroom at the end of shelter island has doors. Guys….you don’t have to change your tampon ….that itself is a reason for doors!


mr.rick July 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Just having showers and fresh water is better than a fiberglass box and a chemical stench. Just be thankful the gods are smiling on north OB.


Frank Gormlie July 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm

mr rich – you’re right there – OB now has the best – and the very worst beach restrooms in San Diego.


mr.rick July 30, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Yeah, and we should have gotten our OB on the wall. Maybe it could be regularly modified with some eco-friendly paint, periodically. I think I could come up with several styles of OB, mostly dated versions. But still current, if you can dig old school.


Goatskull July 31, 2012 at 7:30 am

Privacy no privacy, it seem a bit inconsiderate if everyone is lining up for the disabled stalls because they want their privacy. So if a disabled person comes in and needs to use that stall they have to wait because everyone else is too bashful? Just sayin.


Citizen Cane July 31, 2012 at 10:08 am

We really needed bike racks at North OB, but the new racks are just on the other side of short wall from the showers. It would have been a great spot for landscaping, because the plants would get misted by the showers. Not a good place for bike racks. My bikes live outside all year long. But getting my bike wet, and then riding it on a sandy street or parking lot is a bad combo. I guess we don’t have enough city planners that ride bicycles.

P.S. I don’t buy any of the maintenance arguments for not having doors on all of the stalls, because we have doors on the handicapped stalls. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.


Citizen Cane July 31, 2012 at 10:18 am

One final thought….we could have used shell architecture. The toilet stalls wouldn’t need doors if the separating walls were curved like like a passage in a sea snail. A remodel is still possible. Curves would be nice, but aren’t necessary. The wall extensions could simply jut out at a 45 degree angle.


Frank Gormlie July 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Nice ideas, CC, but if you really think the City will do a re-model –outside installing stall doors — I want to try what you’re smoking.


jim grant July 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm

THE CONTRACTOR JUST SENT ME THIS : The City of OB requested there were none, but then after the 4th and realizing that the patrons only used the stalls with the doors, the womens restroom will be getting doors.

Description: PRava

Description: watermarkKalina Houck
cell: (760) 402-6534
office: (760) 929-9787
fax: (760) 579-0003

2038 Corte Del Nogal, Ste 100 Carlsbad, CA 92011


OB Cindi July 31, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Who cares that Jim has a contractors phone number and address? They don’t pay the bills and don’t make the deposit to start work on bathroom doors. More interested in date for completion, if Kevin’s office has signed off and given a check to begin the work, and how much was it? *shaking head* No one is interested in rumor reporting and gossip. My friends 8 yr old daughter has another slumber party coming up end of August. Are you available Jim?


JMW August 1, 2012 at 3:33 am

What a mole hill! 25 comments? Unbelievable.


Goatskull August 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

Kind of amazing that this is generating more comments than the more pressing issues on the Rag. Then again, this is my scecond comment on this.


Frank Gormlie August 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

A rep from Kevin Faulconer’s office announced at the Planning Bd meeting Wed night that stall doors are on their way.


OB Mercy August 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Do ya think this article had something to do with it Frank? SO cool!!


Joe Ewing August 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

OK I’ll bite on that hidden text challange. There are sentences from the OB Rag all over that ceiling. Without a lot of detective work I determined that on the mens side most of the text relates to Danny the homeless guy that was shot (or murdered according to the Rag) by the police. On the womens side the line, “Some housed people believe that all homeless people spend” … comes right off of the rags website. Also a lot of the womens side text refers to “Blue” that pitbull that was also “Murdered” by the police in the Hodads parking lot. So I win a “Tee” shirt… RIGHT?

(note) with all that hateing of the cops, I really surprised the “committee” approved ther art.


OB Mercy August 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm

That freakin’ rocks that you found all that Joe! And such subversive stuff too! Love it!


Patty Jones August 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm

You win Joe! Shoot us an email with your size and we’ll see what colors we have.


Patty Jones August 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Joe, I edited your comment to add links to the Rag articles that relate to the phrases you found. Thanks for checking it out!


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