Pier restrooms: questions and answers

Renovation project will stay in existing footprint of the facilities

Seen in the womens’ restroom on Aug. 28 was graffiti scratched on the inside of a stall. Rust was visible on the bolts.

Part of an ongoing series.

The renovation of the Seal Beach Pier restrooms is in the pipeline.

As the Sun reported last week, it’s in the preliminary design stages.

First a consultant must be hired to design the project.

Once designed, the project has to be bid out.

In March 2021, City Manager Jill Ingram recommended repairing the restrooms ahead of other pier-related progress during the city’s strategic planning workshop. (See “Seal Beach City Council plans priorities for its pier-related projects,” sunnews.org.)

At the time, the staff presentation put the estimated cost of the project at a quarter million.

The Sun emailed questions about the upcoming construction project on Friday, Aug. 27 to Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos. He replied on Monday, Aug. 30.

The questions and answers are below:

Sun Newspapers: How many complaints about the pier restrooms has the city received this year?

Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos: “The City does not track the number of complaints but traditionally we receive more complaints during the busier summer months which is the season with the most foot traffic. In addition to the porter that cleans the restrooms all day, City staff quickly responds to any complaints it receives about the beach restrooms.”

Sun: Does the city have a credible estimate of how many people visit the beach during the summertime?

Gallegos: “We do not have reliable figures for how many visitors we receive at the beach in the summertime.”

Sun: What are the city’s options for renovating the pier restrooms?

Gallegos: “The budget generally allows for plumbing, ventilation, and fixture upgrades.”

Sun: Can the city expand the footprint of the pier restrooms?

Gallegos: “The intent of the restroom project is to stay within the existing footprint.”

Sun: Will the city need to get approval for the restroom renovation project from the State Lands Commission?

Gallegos: “The scope of work is intended to be maintenance in nature.”

Sun: I believe the city will need to get approval for a restroom renovation from the California Coastal Commission. What other agencies will need to review or approve the project?

Gallegos: “The scope of work is intended to be maintenance in nature.  It is expected that this item will be exempt from a Coastal Development Permit.”

According to a Dec. 10, 2007, staff report to the City Council, the city constructed the first phase of a pier re-decking project without a Coastal Commission permit. “Thusly, the City received a notice of violation from the Coastal Commission that can be cleared by applying for a Coastal Commission permit,” the 2007 report said.

The city applied for a permit on Jan. 17, 2008, according to commission staff reports. The California Coastal Commission approved the city’s application to replace the pier decking on June 12, 2008, according to the CCC’s online agenda archive:  https://www.coastal.ca.gov/meetings/mtg-mm8-6.html

In light of that history, the Sun asked Gallegos if city staff was certain that a permit won’t be required to renovate the pier restrooms.

On Aug. 31, Gallegos wrote: “City staff is in the preliminary stages of this project and will be in discussions with pertinent agencies to determine what conditions must be met to move forward.”

Sun: Have city officials discussed bringing in portable restrooms during the summertime?

Gallegos: The City is always looking to improve service for our visitors and residents and is open to adding amenities that will improve the service we provide.

Sun: Does the city have a process in place where they can complain to the vendor?

Gallegos: Staff is in regular conversations with the vendor and provides feedback when necessary.

Sun: Is there a way for residents to contact the vendor directly and complain?

Gallegos: Comments and concerns are relayed through the City to the vendor.

Sun: How does Seal Beach ensure compliance with the contract for porter service for the pier and First Street restrooms?

Gallegos: We maintain regular, scheduled and unscheduled inspections.

Sun: For that matter, how does Seal Beach ensure vendor compliance with contracts generally?

Gallegos: As mentioned previously, we maintain regular, scheduled and unscheduled inspections and have staff members assigned to ensure contract compliance.

Readers: How would you improve the pier restrooms? Have you seen anyone vandalizing them? (Did you call the police?) Have you seen them being cleaned? Email editor@sunnews.org and CC editor2@sunnews.org.