Dennis V. Allen Park
The Dennis V. Allen Park in Southeastern San Diego / Photo by Megan Wood

San Diego’s public parks have seen better days.

We recently reported the city is dealing with hundreds of vacancies in its parks and recreation department, and park advocates are now working to convince voters on a parcel tax to pay for much needed programs and repairs. 

Last week we asked you to share the condition of your local park and what you would do to improve it if the city had the necessary resources. We got lots of responses — some were positive, but most were not — that we’ve rounded up for you here.

Potluck of San Diego’s Best Journalism 

We’d like to give loyal Morning Report subscribers a heads up that we are going to take the rest of the week off to stuff our faces and hug our loved ones. But don’t worry, we still have one more thing for you today — possibly something for you to absorb while on your way to Thanksgiving dinner. 

The Voice of San Diego Podcast will be out later this afternoon, so you don’t have to wait until Friday. In the spirit of the holiday, we decided to host a Friendsgiving with some talented journalists in San Diego. We give listeners a quick rundown of the state of San Diego’s public restrooms, and speak with the authors of some interesting local stories. 

Listen here

The Mayor’s Full Take on Public Restrooms: There’s No Problem

In our piece this week by Bella Ross about the deficiency of public restrooms in San Diego as yet another fecal-linked disease spreads among homeless residents, the mayor’s office was surprisingly hostile to the questions we sent them. 

We wanted to pull out more context from the full statement his office sent over, via senior advisor of communications David Rolland. 

We categorically reject your conclusion that the City has struggled to address this issue. Our data show that there are at least 23 public restrooms in Downtown alone. The City also has public restrooms available across the City in our libraries, recreation centers and neighborhood parks. Importantly, the goal here isn’t to add as many permanent public bathrooms as possible. The goal is to help get unsheltered residents off the streets and into safe, sanitary shelter and permanent housing. And this City, under this Mayor, is doing just that, with an unprecedented level of person-centered street outreach and by working to add various types of shelter and housing capacity that meets a wide range of unique personal needs.”

“The report you referenced is the state audit that then-Assemblymember Gloria requested be completed; however, your premise about the ‘role of low restroom access’ is inaccurate. In fact, it’s not even included in the Auditor’s recommendations to the City (or the County). The problem the State Auditor identified was a lack of coordination between the City and County to deploy restrooms amidst the Hepatitis A outbreak. That was a consistent theme throughout the entire audit.”

There’s more. There are plenty of restrooms and also they urgently placed more temporary ones on downtown streets. 

“Having said that, the City has added portable bathrooms since the Hepatitis A outbreak occurred during the previous administration. And in close collaboration with the County (which serves as the region’s lead public-health agency), the City responded immediately and decisively to the recent shigella outbreak by deploying additional bathrooms and hand-washing stations.”

What’s your take on the availability and state of public restrooms in San Diego? 

Related: Gloria unveiled a sidewalk cleaning pilot program Tuesday that involves a deep-cleaning process to remove grime and build-up from sidewalks in downtown, beach areas and the city’s southern neighborhoods. 

City News Service reports that unlike regular sidewalk sanitation efforts, which is spraying a mixture of water and bleach, the city’s new program, known as “Sidewalk Reset” involves a deep-cleaning that can take up to two hours per city block. 

The city has used sidewalk cleaning efforts to address public health concerns related to outbreaks. The city did this during the Hepatitis A outbreak and again recently in response to a shigella outbreak. An NBC7 investigation reported that the city spends nearly $1 million a year cleaning human feces and other biohazards off city streets. It approved more funding for it earlier this month. 

As Ross reported on Tuesday, advocates argue the city needs to address the reason why human feces ends up on streets in the first place. 

Photo of the Week 

Bravo Dock restroom san diego
Casey King, a homeless resident, stands in front of a public restroom near the Bravo Dock along Harbor Drive on Nov. 1, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

From Adriana Heldiz: Back in 2017 when I started working at Voice of San Diego, something big was happening. San Diego was in the middle of a Hepatitis A crisis.

The virus, which spreads when a person ingests trace amounts of fecal matter (poop) from a person who’s infected with it, had disproportionately affected homeless residents, due in part to the lack of public restrooms.

I remember driving around the city photographing hand washing stations installed to help stop the spread, and talking to homeless residents about their concerns.

Almost five years later, I found myself doing the same thing for a recent story about, you guessed it, the lack of public restrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic and a shigella outbreak

In Other News

  • Remember Shane Crotty, the immunologist from the La Jolla Institute of Immunology we interviewed? He said in that podcast he wasn’t sure if he would get a booster shot. He said he didn’t necessarily face any elevated risk and that the two doses he had were proving to be very effective. Two doses is still effective but he has an appointment to get a booster in a few days, he’s synchronizing it with a study he’s following. Anyone 18 and over who had their second dose more than six months ago can get a booster and is recommended to.
  • Tourists can now cross the border, but asylum seekers can’t. Our friend Gustavo Solis documented Tijuana’s makeshift migrant camps. (KPBS)
  • San Diego is home to a new professional women’s soccer team, the San Diego Wave Fútbol Club. (KPBS)
  • Check out this deep-sea anglerfish (made famous in ‘Finding Nemo’) that washed up on Black’s Beach. (NBC 7)

This Morning Report was written by Megan Wood, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Scott Lewis and Adriana Heldiz.

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