Imperial Beach residents speak out about proposed public restrooms

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IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. -- The City of Imperial Beach and the San Diego Port Authority hosted an informational meeting Tuesday evening in the beach parking lot at Seacoast Drive and Beach Street -- the location of a planned $2 million public restroom project.

Some residents are in opposition to the project, which plans to place public toilets and showers directly adjacent to residents' homes.

“I don’t want a public restroom next to my dining room, which is what’s happening here,” said resident Gene Barrow. “They’re proposing to put a million dollar-plus permanent project in an area that only has seasonal use. Look at the beach today -- there’s hardly anybody there. This is just a few days before July. In November, there’s nobody there.”

Barrow has been a resident of the area for 40 years.

“I’m upset for a number of reasons," Barrow said. "I see stories from every major city in the country that's put public restrooms out and they create problems. They’re attractive nuisances. Illicit drugs, sexual activity, vandalism, crime -- all kinds of things that go on in those public facilities. We don’t want that in our neighborhood where our children and grandchildren are playing in the area every day. I don’t want a public restroom next to my dining room, which is what’s happening here.”

Residents are also upset because many claim they were only recently notified of this million dollar-plus project, which is already in an advanced planning stage, including construction drawings.

“Don’t understand how a project of this scale and this expensive in the coastal zone in California could get this far along without having more public input,” Barrow said.

The city say a feasibility study was done back in 2015 to determine a location for the project. In 2017 city council reportedly agreed to recommend the beach avenue location.

In March 2018 the city says a public meeting was held at the Beach Ave. location, but many residents claim they had only began hearing about the project in recent months.

According to Imperial Beach Assistant City Manager Steve Dush, the project will need to go through a minimum of three formal meetings before it is approved. Dush said no dates have been set for those meetings yet.

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