Public restrooms planned for Carmel Grove, Carmel Knolls parks

Carmel Knolls Park in Carmel Valley.
(Karen Billing)

Comfort stations, or public restroom facilities, are in the works for Carmel Grove and Carmel Knolls neighborhood parks in Carmel Valley.

As the projects have been exempted from California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review, the city sent out notices to the adjacent community for the right to appeal the environmental determination to City Council—appeals were due back by April 21.

The comfort stations were approved by the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board back in 2015, two 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 $2.2 million (Grove) and $2.3 million (Knolls) facilities will be 350-square feet pre-fabricated buildings. Both projects include the installation of water, sewer and electrical services to tie into existing lines and the reconstruction of existing pathways to meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. Once construction begins, both are anticipated to be completed by mid-2024.

Last year, the city scrapped the approved plans for a comfort station at Carmel Mission Park after several neighbors came forward stating their opposition. Residents cited a lack of need, questioned the city’s ability to maintain it and also shared 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, other criminal activity, and that it could also invite homeless people.

A comfort station has also been approved for Solana Highlands Neighborhood Park, anticipated to finish the design process later this year. 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.