Who is responsible for public restrooms?

First Street area men’s room as of Jan. 4

The Sun received screen captures of a social media post complaining about the lack of cleanliness of public restrooms in Seal Beach. The screenshots appeared to be dated Dec 29, 2022. The images seemed to be of the public restrooms on First Street in the building located next to the Beach House. The images are best described as unappetizing. (See the photos on this page 4.) The cleanliness of the pier restrooms is a long-standing issue.

On Jan. 4, 2023, a Sun staffer took photos of the city-owned restrooms at First Street and under the pier. The First Street photos taken on Jan. 4 showed a restroom that had wet floors, presumably from recent rain. There was no litter present. Graffiti can be seen in one photo and shows a urinal covered in plastic with a hand-lettered sign reading “Out of order” and “clogged.”

The Jan. 4 pier photos showed wet floors and in one showed a quarter and a dime on the floor near a drain.

The Sun on Jan. 4 emailed questions to Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos and District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick, which included the social media post screencaps and the Jan. 4 photos. As to the restrooms on First Street, the Sun reviewed the 2018 lease agreement between Seal Beach and the Beach House tenants of the city-owned building at 15 First St. Section 6, paragraph 6.3 Maintenance, it refers to “the interior of the Premises (including the Restrooms) and all fixtures therein in good condition and repair.”

The Sun on Jan. 10 emailed City Attorney Craig Steele and asked: “So does the lease require the tenants to maintain the restrooms in the building next to the restaurant or to the restrooms physically located within the restaurant building itself?” On the same day, Steele wrote: “Yes, the tenants are responsible for maintaining the public restrooms in the adjacent building.  The prior tenant in the restaurant also maintained the restrooms.  The term ‘Restrooms’ is intentionally capitalized as a defined term in the Lease.  You will see that the term ‘the Restrooms’ refers to the existing public restrooms in one of the recitals above, I believe it is Recital E.”

The Sun replied: “One of the questions that I brought up was the Section 6.3 of the facility lease agreement where it states that the tenant is responsible for the interior portion of the premises and there is no mention of an adjacent building or reference to public restrooms.

“You are correct that the previous tenant maintained the public restrooms. However, he did not have any restrooms on premises. In the minutes of the March 12, 2018, City Council meeting, there is a reference to Mayor [Mike] Varipapa stating that the beach restrooms are used primarily by the public.

“The Beach House management staff are stating that the responsibility for the maintenance of the public restrooms is the city’s responsibility.

“Can you provide direction or documentation to support your statement that the Beach House is responsible for maintaining the public restrooms?

“Your email below states that the city has been demanding for weeks that the Beach House maintain the public restrooms, therefore I must ask: who is maintaining them right now?” Steel replied: “My prior email explains this. Recital E in the lease tells you what ‘Restrooms’ means. I don’t know the answer to your question about ongoing maintenance.”

Sun questions to the city

“We have received screencaps of a social media post complaining about the cleanliness of public restrooms in Seal Beach.”

“I should note that photos taken today, Jan. 4,  show clean restrooms with wet floors at both the pier and First Street restrooms. The First Street restrooms appear to have graffiti and one out-of-order toilet.

Social media post of what appears to be the First Street restrooms. Courtesy photo

“How much does the vender cost the city each year to provide porter service to clean Seal Beach’s public restrooms?”

In a Wednesday, Jan. 11, email, Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos wrote: “Seal Beach Pier Restroom Porter Service is $132,322.39/year.”

Sun: “What is the status of the renovation of the Seal Beach Pier restrooms?”

Gallegos: “The Seal Beach Pier Restrooms are in the design phase.”

Sun: “When was the vendor last there to clean them?”

Gallegos:  “The Seal Beach Pier Restroom janitorial services vendor is present Monday through Sunday every week.”

Sun: “How does the city hold the vendor accountable?”

Gallegos: “City staff routinely checks the pier restroom conditions.”

Sun: Can you provide a copy of the contract?

Gallegos: “Attached.”

Sun: “What is the potential impact of the condition of public restrooms on public access?”

This question was not answered as of 9:24 a.m.

The Sun has also asked the California Coastal Commission about the impact on coastal access. The CCC has not replied as of Wednesday, Jan. 11.

Sun: “Does the city receive funding from the state to maintain the public restrooms?”

Gallegos: “No, the City does not receive an outside funding source to maintain the public restrooms.”