West Hollywood’s LGBTQ Commission is set to review City Hall’s plan to open public restrooms at the city’s parks 24/7 primarily to accommodate homeless people — a move that will cost more than $400,000 for the first year alone. This initiative, which has been under consideration since a request by the Council Subcommittee on Homelessness in November 2021, has evolved through various stages of discussion and planning.
The proposal’s journey began when the City Council was approached to explore the possibility of expanding access to public restrooms. Following this, staff engaged with the subcommittee in August 2022 to deliberate on potential strategies and gather feedback. The discussions continued into June 2023, with the Subcommittee, now led by Councilmember Chelsea Byers and Councilmember John Heilman, reviewing examples from other jurisdictions and assessing the current state of public restrooms in West Hollywood, especially in the context of a post-COVID-19 environment.
On August 21, 2023, the City Council took decisive steps by instructing staff to initiate an awareness campaign about the existing public restrooms’ locations and hours. Additionally, the Council greenlit expanded access to West Hollywood Park and called for a detailed analysis of similar facilities at Plummer Park. The Council also emphasized the importance of discussing safety concerns with relevant City Advisory Boards and Commissions.
Staff is now seeking input from the LGBTQ Commission regarding the proposed location of the Plummer Park restrooms. The recommendation is to revisit this item during the mid-year budget cycle. The financial implications of the proposal have been outlined, with an initial estimated cost of $423,080 for the first year. This budget includes $10,000 for an outreach campaign and signage, and a substantial allocation toward security and maintenance for the restrooms at both West Hollywood and Plummer Parks.
The breakdown of the costs reveals a significant investment in security services, with West Hollywood Park requiring $135,780 annually for two security ambassadors for additional hours, and Plummer Park needing $226,300 per year for overnight security—a service currently not in place. The proposal also accounts for cleaning and supplies, estimated at $51,000 per year.
The ongoing expenses for subsequent years are projected at $413,080, with an expectation of annual cost escalations based on existing contract terms. This comprehensive financial plan underscores the city’s commitment to addressing the needs of its residents and visitors by providing safe, clean, and accessible public restrooms.
As the LGBTQ Commission reviews the proposal, the outcome will be closely watched by community members and stakeholders. The decision will not only reflect the city’s dedication to public health and safety but also its responsiveness to the needs of a diverse population, including those experiencing homelessness. The Commission’s feedback will be pivotal in shaping the final stages of the proposal before it is potentially rolled out as part of the city’s infrastructure improvements.