In Tuesday’s meeting City staff will introduce a proposed amendment to the Santa Monica Municipal Code by requiring multi-stall, all gender, public restroom facilities and the establishing of associated standards for all appropriate newly constructed buildings.

The City Council reaffirmed Santa Monica’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion at its March 11, 2023 workshop when it identified “racial justice, equity and social diversity” as one of its five priorities for fiscal years 2023-2025. This priority in part states that “all community members shall be provided with access to resources and opportunities, where difference in life outcomes cannot be predicted by race, class, gender, disability, or other identities.”

According to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, “Gender neutral public restroom access is an important opportunity for the City to demonstrate its commitment to equity, ensuring restrooms are designed to feel safe and accessible by more of our community.”

The new design code will ultimately be enforced in the construction of buildings for which a complete permit application is submitted to the City on or after July 1, 2023. Provisions are also included allowing existing buildings to voluntarily retrofit existing public restroom facilities.

“I’m proud that we are moving forward with establishing gender neutral restrooms in Santa Monica,” says councilmember Caroline Torosis. “Consistent with our commitment to equity and social diversity, this ordinance is much needed so that all residents, visitors and stakeholders feel welcome and invited into our City.”

During the meeting, staff will also recommend the Council declare that the City-owned properties located at 1444 7th Street (formerly Fire Station 1), 1654 19th Street (formerly City TV) and two remnant parcels associated with the Expo Lot as “surplus land” in accordance with California’s Surplus Land Act (SLA).

The SLA governs the sale or lease of land owned by local agencies and requires that the City first declare the properties to be “surplus lands” and then send a notice of availability to entities designated within the SLA. They then have 60 days to respond and if the City receives a notice of interest, it must negotiate in good faith for a minimum of 90 days. The City may reject proposals when the parties cannot agree on sales price or lease terms.

However, all of this will be after what will no doubt be some lengthy closed session discussion as Council will hear updates on 47 existing lawsuits related to the ongoing settlement payments for the Uller case.(Plus a couple more indirectly associated.) Former Santa Monica Police Department staffer Eric Uller molested children while volunteering at the Police Activities League with underprivileged kids in the 1980s and 1990s. Uller killed himself after he was arrested in 2018, but the City’s alleged negligence of the abuse has led to payouts to almost 100 victims for $107million.

The statue of limitations to file claims related to child abuse at the Police Activities League ended last year, but the city is still calculating the final payments and attempting to recover some costs associated with the case from insurance companies.

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.