The City of Santa Maria’s Recreation and Parks Department is frustrated about vandalism in city park bathrooms. It’s something they say is becoming an almost daily occurrence and they’re now taking money from other projects to pay for the cleanup.
“We have broken toilets, broken toilet paper dispensers, soap dispensers, sinks, stolen items like faucets and handles. I don’t want to say only the homeless but people bend the doors trying to get the doors open,” explained Roy Teniente, Parks and Urban Forest Supervisor for the City of Santa Maria.
The repairs can be costly.
“That will take money away from other items that need attention whether it’s playground or turf repair or general maintenance items,” Teniente said.
The vandalism got so bad at Tunnell Park, the city closed down the bathrooms, giving keys only to the little league team that practices there.
One mom says it’s the only park bathroom she’ll let her kids use.
“Because we’re here 5-6 days a week I feel comfortable with them coming here. Most of the kids and families here know each other. If it’s other parks in the community, I try not to. I just don’t want to say, ‘What if… I should have gone in there or I should’ve checked it or I shouldn’t have let them go.’ Nah, it’s alright, we have our bathroom at home. We’ll just go at home,” said Virginia Esparza.
So what can be done to stop this? The city says a lot of the parks already have cameras but it’s hard to get a good picture of people coming in and out of the bathroom.
“We don’t want people to confront anybody but if they can control their own family members if they see them doing something like that and realize that other people use the restrooms, that they’re there for everyone’s use and we want to make sure it’s clean and usable for everyone,” Teniente said.
If you do see vandalism in a park bathroom you’re asked to give the parks department a call.
The city has 28 parks and almost all of them have bathrooms.