4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Balboa Park bathrooms lauded for low flow and lighting

But design stinks, say detractors

"Perfect examples of the worst that happens when the city buys inappropriate and highly visible buildings without professional design services."
"Perfect examples of the worst that happens when the city buys inappropriate and highly visible buildings without professional design services."

A pair of prefab toilets, bestowed with an Onion award last year for their undistinguished design, are now being recognized as an American Public Works Association project of the year.

The nomination has nothing to do with architectural beauty, but rather, plumbing. The Balboa Park West Mesa Comfort Stations, located at 6th Avenue and Nutmeg, have low flow toilets and lighting that meet the city’s sustainability goals.

They replace two outdated facilities - and there are plenty more. Many of the park's existing comfort stations were built in the 1960s. Today, they aren't exactly comforting.

According to a city report, the 23 toilets in Balboa Park are "among the worst in the city of San Diego Parks system of 191 Comfort Stations.”

While the report focuses on health, safety and ADA compliance, area residents, architects and planning groups dislike the facade. The out of a box toilets "are perfect examples of the worst that happens when the city buys inappropriate and highly visible buildings without professional design services and drops them into historic Balboa Park."

Sponsored
Sponsored
"The project will be a blight on the crown jewel of San Diego on the West Mesa for the next 50 years," said Banker's Hill resident, Bruce Dammann.

The comfort stations, themselves, have a history. In 2001, the city began looking into using pre-designed buildings for multiple similar structures in the city’s inventory.

Public works later came up with designs for fire stations, shade structures and comfort stations. In 2019, an update to the city's Consultant's Guide to Park Design & Development finally provided new standards, even though the city still lacks a public toilet strategy for fixing or replacing them all.

The two basic styles for comfort stations, which are chosen by Parks and Recreation department staff, are traditional, with separate men’s and women’s restrooms, or an arrangement of gender-neutral stalls and outdoor sinks.

The West Mesa toilets are a unisex design with individual restroom stalls and exterior hand washing sinks. Each station has at least one ADA accessible restroom stall.

"The building design and materials shall harmonize with the design of the park’s theme or natural character."

As some see it, the city has instead prioritized low-bid cost-cutting, creating an aesthetic chaos exemplified by the West Mesa toilets.

"The project will be a blight on the crown jewel of San Diego on the West Mesa for the next 50 years," said Banker's Hill resident, Bruce Dammann, in a comment letter to the city.

It took six years to build and cost twice as much as it should have, Dammann said, arguing that the engineering and capital improvements department, "should never be in charge of the design of projects in our city parks."

The estimated total project cost is $2,378,963, and the budget to date is $716,718. CIP Project Information Detail (sandiego.gov)

An assessment of the condition of the 60s-era comfort stations found it will cost nearly half their replacement value to return them to a serviceable level.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Allied Gardens invaded by 2000 sq ft houses

Peaceful Navajo Canyon, Grantville independence, Iowa Meats, Superior Ready Mix, sinkholes on Princess View, farmers market, Kaiser parking, Cowles Mountain preservation
"Perfect examples of the worst that happens when the city buys inappropriate and highly visible buildings without professional design services."
"Perfect examples of the worst that happens when the city buys inappropriate and highly visible buildings without professional design services."

A pair of prefab toilets, bestowed with an Onion award last year for their undistinguished design, are now being recognized as an American Public Works Association project of the year.

The nomination has nothing to do with architectural beauty, but rather, plumbing. The Balboa Park West Mesa Comfort Stations, located at 6th Avenue and Nutmeg, have low flow toilets and lighting that meet the city’s sustainability goals.

They replace two outdated facilities - and there are plenty more. Many of the park's existing comfort stations were built in the 1960s. Today, they aren't exactly comforting.

According to a city report, the 23 toilets in Balboa Park are "among the worst in the city of San Diego Parks system of 191 Comfort Stations.”

While the report focuses on health, safety and ADA compliance, area residents, architects and planning groups dislike the facade. The out of a box toilets "are perfect examples of the worst that happens when the city buys inappropriate and highly visible buildings without professional design services and drops them into historic Balboa Park."

Sponsored
Sponsored
"The project will be a blight on the crown jewel of San Diego on the West Mesa for the next 50 years," said Banker's Hill resident, Bruce Dammann.

The comfort stations, themselves, have a history. In 2001, the city began looking into using pre-designed buildings for multiple similar structures in the city’s inventory.

Public works later came up with designs for fire stations, shade structures and comfort stations. In 2019, an update to the city's Consultant's Guide to Park Design & Development finally provided new standards, even though the city still lacks a public toilet strategy for fixing or replacing them all.

The two basic styles for comfort stations, which are chosen by Parks and Recreation department staff, are traditional, with separate men’s and women’s restrooms, or an arrangement of gender-neutral stalls and outdoor sinks.

The West Mesa toilets are a unisex design with individual restroom stalls and exterior hand washing sinks. Each station has at least one ADA accessible restroom stall.

"The building design and materials shall harmonize with the design of the park’s theme or natural character."

As some see it, the city has instead prioritized low-bid cost-cutting, creating an aesthetic chaos exemplified by the West Mesa toilets.

"The project will be a blight on the crown jewel of San Diego on the West Mesa for the next 50 years," said Banker's Hill resident, Bruce Dammann, in a comment letter to the city.

It took six years to build and cost twice as much as it should have, Dammann said, arguing that the engineering and capital improvements department, "should never be in charge of the design of projects in our city parks."

The estimated total project cost is $2,378,963, and the budget to date is $716,718. CIP Project Information Detail (sandiego.gov)

An assessment of the condition of the 60s-era comfort stations found it will cost nearly half their replacement value to return them to a serviceable level.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Allied Gardens invaded by 2000 sq ft houses

Peaceful Navajo Canyon, Grantville independence, Iowa Meats, Superior Ready Mix, sinkholes on Princess View, farmers market, Kaiser parking, Cowles Mountain preservation
Next Article

Brake checking on San Diego freeways

The predictable response to tailgating
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close