Beach Bathrooms south of the Santa Monica Pier on Wednesday afternoon. (photo by Brandon Wise)

BEACHSIDE — As Memorial Day came and went, Santa Monicans near the seashore might have wondered whatever happened to those eight new restrooms promised for Santa Monica Beach.

The restroom replacements were the result of a 2006 settlement agreement between the California Department of Parks and Recreation and parties in a class-action lawsuit that claimed that the condition and design of the facilities violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In accordance with the settlement, City Hall chose to replace eight facilities on Santa Monica State Beach, which is owned by the state and operated by local government.

Five of the restrooms lie south of the pier on Ocean Front Walk, and the other three are north on Palisades Beach Road.

The facilities were supposed to be finished by Memorial Day, but that didn’t happen.

Now, with school everywhere either done or nearing completion, and a city famed for its beaches and sun preparing for the onslaught of summer tourists, functioning — and ADA-compliant — restroom facilities seem less like a nice project, and more like a real need.

The $3.78 million project, taken on by the architectural firm Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects, hit delays ranging from long waits for special materials to the inability of contractors to get to the sites to the sheer number of construction locations up and down the beach.

Selective demolition only got started in October, and then cleanup of asbestos and lead-based materials had to begin, wrote Susan Cline, the assistant director of Public Works, in an e-mail.

“However, construction could not begin until early November, when building permits were issued,” Cline said.

The contractor hoped that two months could be cut off of construction time to make up for the delays and make the Memorial Day target, but all nine months were needed to finish up, Cline wrote.

All the bathrooms are expected to be open by late July. To make up for the lack of flush toilets, Public Works has put out more portable toilets for beach-users.

In 2010, according to estimates by the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1.575 million visitors from outside of the L.A. area visited the beach.

When the permanent toilets are done, they won’t just be accessible to all, but helpful to a variety of users.

Each will be outfitted with toilet facilities, outdoor sinks and showers, foot washes, bike racks and drinking fountains.

The restrooms themselves will be passively ventilated, meaning that the air moving naturally off the ocean will help keep them fresh, while gravity-induced convection will help keep the buildings cool.

The buildings will be built with the largest face oriented to the north or south to minimize the disruption of the ocean view. The men and women’s sides will be side-by-side, separated by the building’s spine.

According to an overview on the Santa Monica State Beach website, the structures will be formed of precast concrete panels and anti-slip concrete exterior floors. The roofing will be nearly flat and formed of a mix of concrete panels and metal.

Solid wood doors and a wire mesh form the exposed areas.

The goal was to make the structures durable, easily washed and sustainable, according to the report.


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