At its April 25 meeting, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance, and associated design standards, to require multi-stall, gender neutral public restrooms for all newly constructed buildings for which a complete building permit application is submitted to the City on or after July 1, 2023.
“Nobody should feel unwelcome or denied access when in need of a restroom,” says Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis. “I’m thrilled that we are making strides to better serve people of all genders and gender identities, individuals that require the assistance of a caregiver of a different gender, and parents with children of different genders.”
The Council’s action follows its direction to prioritize, as part of its 2021 State Legislative Platform, policy decisions and regulatory matters that “support legislation that mandates gender neutral multi-stall bathrooms.” In response to this directive, Santa Monica, along with the City of West Hollywood, co-sponsored California Senate Bill 1194 (“SB 1194”), authored by Santa Monica’s own Sen. Ben Allen, which provided the authority for cities to establish requirements for new and renovated public toilet facilities to serve all gender identities.
SB 1194 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on September 29, 2022.
At its March 11, 2023, workshop, the City Council reaffirmed its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion when it identified Racial Justice, Equity, and Social Diversity as one of its five priorities for Fiscal Years 2023-2025. This ordinance will create more safe and accessible restroom facilities for everyone, especially those most likely to face threats and intimidation when using a public restroom.
The ordinance does not require improvements to existing public restrooms but does include a provision allowing the voluntary retrofit of existing public restroom facilities.
For more information, see the staff report.