Visitors to Venice Beach are now no longer left with having to search for a bathroom elsewhere by the time the sun goes down.
Thanks to an effort spearheaded by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the city-operated bathroom facilities along the highly popular Venice Boardwalk are open daily until 10:30 p.m. as of Monday, Nov. 1. The bathrooms were previously closed at sunset, something Rosendahl and community members said was a problem as Ocean Front Walk continues to draw scores of visitors and tourists into the evening hours, particularly during the summer.
“This is good news for anyone who is walking along the beach or out at the beach after sunset,” said Rosendahl, who worked on the proposal with the city Department of Recreation and Parks.
Kevin Regan, Department of Recreation and Parks assistant general manager, said the councilman had pushed for the bathroom operating hours to be extended in an effort to provide additional service to people who are accessing the beach and boardwalk at night. With the prior closure of the facilities after sunset, visitors were left with limited options of where to go to the bathroom near the beach at night.
“Venice is a very popular area with many businesses and restaurants, and it’s even popular at night,” said Regan, referring to the need for the later hours. “We always strive to provide as much service for the community as we can given our budget restrictions.”
The new extended hours came as welcome news to some community members. Venice Neighborhood Council President Linda Lucks called the service a “no-brainer,” saying it will provide relief to not only the millions of annual visitors but to residents who frequent the beach.
“I think this is something that should have always been happening,” said Lucks, explaining the need to accommodate people who come to Venice Beach. “I’m glad the councilman took this bold move and did the right thing.
“The logical conclusion is to open the bathrooms and to have more bathrooms.”
The lack of adequate restroom facilities was an issue emphasized following some incidents of raw sewage dumping on the streets, allegedly by a person living in an RV, this summer. While officials noted that sewage dumping is illegal and residents argued that the streets aren’t for toilets, others said the incidents brought to light what some may choose to do without restrooms.
Rosendahl called the reported dumping intolerable but has said he believes “it’s an irresponsible act of our society to shut down the bathrooms” at night.
Lucks said the bathroom issue is not a homeless problem but a visitor problem, in which visitors have not been adequately served with restrooms open into the night.
The extended bathroom hours will initially be supervised by Department of Recreation and Parks staff, who will clean, maintain and close the facilities. Due to budget restrictions, the department is working on an agreement with Chrysalis to take over the operation into the closing hours, Regan said. The bathrooms will be locked at 10:30 p.m. to prevent possible vandalism.
Under the pending agreement, Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization that works to create a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income people through employment, will provide workers to perform clean-up and maintenance.
“I think it’s a great idea for the community; it fits in perfectly with the kind of work we do,” Chrysalis CEO Mark Loranger said. “Chrysalis is all about jobs and helping those in poverty and the formerly homeless get on the path of self-sufficiency through work.”
Loranger noted that the Venice Beach restrooms get a lot of use and it’s important that they receive good maintenance because “if the restrooms aren’t clean it attracts other problems.”
“Having this public amenity available is good for the neighborhood and it’s the humane thing to do for the community,” he said.
Rosendahl also praised the efforts of the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific division, which plans to have additional officers patrolling the boardwalk to help keep the area and bathrooms safe.
“I’m thrilled that Chief (Charlie) Beck will give us more resources so that police can patrol along the beach at night and keep the bathrooms safe,” the councilman said.