Dear Editor, 

As a life-long resident of Santa Monica and the Westside, I am completely frustrated by the ongoing lack of working bathrooms in the very busy Memorial Park. Last Friday (Jan. 28), I was at the park, as I am daily, to play pickleball. The park was bustling with people. There were about 50 pickleball players, tennis players, kids in the skate park and many preschoolers on the playground. It was a beautiful, vibrant scene of folks exercising and enjoying another beautiful day in Santa Monica. 

When I needed to use the restroom, I was met with all three of the women’s toilets broken, with out of order signs which had been there for approximately two weeks. So, I tried to use the men’s. But they (all three) were locked, with people inside having conversations. Peering through the slats, I could see that, in two of the three, someone was sleeping on the floor. I waited for about 15 minutes, then gave up and went to the gym, which is closed and has a sign in front saying “no public restrooms”. Well, to make a long story longer, I knew someone was inside and I knocked on the door. Just as a clerk answered and told me I couldn’t use the restroom, a SM city worker came by and I explained my issue. He graciously took me to a private restroom, behind a locked gate, which he had the key for. I was very grateful. He also suggested I call 311 to report this. I did, but got a recording that due to budget shortfalls or staffing shortages, that 311 is closed on Fridays!

Returning to the courts, I consciously didn’t drink any water, so as not to have to repeat this. So it was no surprise, when later, I became dizzy and nearly passed out from dehydration. 

I realize that this is a first world problem, but in a city of this size, with so many people and so much wealth, it seems like there must be a better way. 

Thanks for letting me vent.

Stephanie Blank, Marina del Rey