Carmel Mission Park comfort station project has been canceled

Carmel Mission Park in Carmel Valley.
(Karen Billing)

Neighbors had opposed the public restroom due to safety concerns, lack of need


The comfort station at Carmel Mission Park is no longer moving forward.

The $1.4 million comfort station (or public bathroom) was approved by the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board back in 2015 for the long linear park under the power lines off Carmel Country Road. It was one of $18 million worth of local park improvements using Developer Impact Fees (then known as Facilities Benefit Assessment funds) paid into by local developers. The project went through the approval process with the San Diego Park and Recreation Council in 2018.

This July, several neighbors came forward stating their opposition to the public bathroom in the park, citing a lack of need and also concerns about safety. Neighbors said that the public bathroom could become a venue for teens to loiter, smoke or do drugs, that the structure’s walls might become a target for graffiti and that it could also invite homeless people and other criminal activity. There were also concerns about the city’s ability to maintain it.

Recently, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein secured $1.1 million in state funding for Carmel Valley parks, including $250,000 set aside for Carmel Mission and the comfort station. Rik Hauptfeld, a representative for Maienshein’s office, said with the comfort station project abandoned, those funds will be distributed elsewhere in the community.

At the planning board’s Oct. 27 meeting, Carmel Valley resident Evan Muse had one idea for the funding: He said there are still significant concerns with lighting in Carmel Mission Park for safety. Muse said it remains extremely dark in the park, despite residents asking the city for over seven months for the streetlights to be repaired.

Planning board member Debbie Lokanc said that for any other comfort stations proposed in Carmel Valley, the city should give neighboring homeowners plenty of notice so they can share their opinions. Chair Frisco White said that the board only approved the funding for the park amenities not the actual projects and there are concerns that the community was not involved in the decision-making.

Comfort stations have been approved for Solana Highlands Neighborhood Park, Carmel Knolls Neighborhood Park and Carmel Grove Neighborhood Park. The demolition and replacement of the existing comfort station at Carmel Del Mar Neighborhood Park has also been approved, as well as a concession building with a restroom at Sage Canyon Neighborhood Park.

Those projects have been given estimated completion timelines of mid-2023.