By Jim Shilander

The San Clemente City Council approved moving forward with planned improvements to the restrooms at the base of the San Clemente Pier Tuesday, despite an increased price tag necessitated by changes made to the proposal by the Planning Commission.

The changes include increasing the number of tiles on the roof of the building, as well as exterior stucco on the rear of the building facing the railroad tracks, as well as an auxiliary trash enclosure and electrical building. The commission also asked the city to consider upgrading the finish of the floors. The total cost increase came to $73,743 beyond the original $365,000 budget for the project.

Beaches, Parks and Recreation Director Sharon Heider said the commission had tried to treat the city’s application as it would any homeowner in the city, which led to the requirements. The city must also upgrade all the Councilman Bob Baker said he was becoming less enamored with the prospect of future restroom rehabilitation projects.

“The cost is spiraling out of control,” Baker said. “It seems like we’ve gone over the line here. I’m not OK with what the Planning Commission has done.”

Councilman Jim Evert said the city needed to do something with the restroom, which he said had fallen into obvious disrepair.

Mayor Tim Brown said he felt the city could learn from the development process for the pier restrooms as it embarked on efforts to improve restrooms elsewhere in coming years. The city could try to makeup the money lost over the course of the next several projects, he said.

The council voted 3-2 to approve the increased budget, with Baker and Mayor Pro-Tem Chris Hamm dissenting.

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  • $438,000 for a restroom seems about right from the City Staff’s perspective but a bit excessive to us normal people. What are the odds that it comes in under or over budget? Smart money says take “the over. ” At the budgeted price it will no doubt have heated toilets, plush carpeting, and perhaps a water feature for decor. Staff blames the cost on ADA compliance— the convenient whipping boy. Glad to hear it is “fast-tracked” by staff to the Coastal Commission. Which means driving up to their Long Beach office and dropping off paperwork. We have done this a number of times and it takes just under 2 hours. Some fast track! Plaudits to Bob Baker and Chris Hamm for their sensible, and fiscally conservative, “no votes.” Too bad the other council members—swayed by the Staff’s hyperbole—did not vote the same way. Maybe next time.

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