A Laguna Beach parents coalition has lobbied city officials for a slate of upgrades to the aging restroom building at Moulton Meadows Park, including the installation of bathroom stall doors and diaper changing stations.
The Recreation Committee offered a boost to the campaign on Sept. 20 after hearing parents’ testimony, recommending city staffers pursue the improvements at the Art Beach Heights park. The Laguna Beach Parents Club has also endorsed the plan.
“In the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at the layout of the restroom fixtures, walls, and partitions, to identify a cost-effective solution,” city spokesperson Cassie Walder wrote in an email.
Any improvements will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, city officials said.
The Moulton Meadows Park restroom building was constructed between 1986 and 1987. City staffers were unable to find details from that time to explain why stall doors were not installed as part of the original construction, Walder said.
The parents’ coalition has been spearhead by Arch Beach Heights resident Roxanne Safa who has spotlighted how COVID-19 restrictions on indoor activity encouraged more park use as more people work from home, families look for outdoor venues, and a home remodeling boom attracts workers who need to use park restrooms.
An ipetitions.org campaign supporting the Moulton Meadows upgrades has earned 114 signatures. Safa said she’s collected another 116 signatures in person from park users.
Safa has been visiting Moulton Meadows with her now two-and-a-half-year-old daughter for about a year. In July, Safa was commiserating with another mom about the lack of shade at the park. So far, she’s unsuccessfully attempted to get city officials to commit to a construction plan and timeline.
“I am pleased the city has acknowledged the community’s concerns and is taking initial steps to address them,” Safa wrote in an email. “We are asking for basic necessities like bathroom stall doors for privacy and diaper changing stations – things which the city should have addressed some time ago. I am hopeful the city will move on all requests quickly as some of them involve immediate safety risks for our children.”
In addition to the restroom upgrades, parents have asked for shade structures over seating areas and playground swings, curb cuts for easier stroller access from the street to the sidewalk, and additional picnic tables. These are proving to be trickier fixes that are expected to take longer than parents would like.
City officials plan to review these potential projects during the annual budget process, which is scheduled to start next spring.
“This is going to be a long-term issue, in terms of shade and seating,” Safa said. “In the pandemic, this needs to be addressed because we’re going to be using the park a lot more.”
A citywide park and playground condition assessment is underway, Public Works Director Mark McAvoy wrote in an email. This had originally been planned for the 2019-20 fiscal year but was paused due to the pandemic and its impacts on the city’s budget.
Moulton Meadows Park was last renovated in 2014, including a reconstructed turf area, new fitness course, and improved landscaping and drainage. It’s not immediately clear why the restrooms weren’t upgraded during this project.