There are no handicapped bathrooms or bathrooms that can accommodate a walker or wheelchair available at the Palisades Recreation Center.
The bathrooms at the Wolfberg Park, which were handicapped accessible, have been closed for about two weeks.
That left the elderly and handicapped in a quandary if “nature called.” CTN was told that some of the elderly used the library’s bathrooms.
But, it left the majority of the handicapped and seniors, who might be at the bocce courts or at the playground with their grandchildren, with no options, other than “Depends” or doing the “pee-pee dance.”
CTN wrote the Board of Commissioners for Rec and Parks, RAP General Manager Jimmy Kim and the Los Angeles Department on Disability about the lack of facilities at the Rec Center July 16.
RAP Public Information Officer Rose Watkins in a July 17 email wrote “My apologies for the delay, I am just learning about restroom concerns.”
She then spoke to RAP management and responded on July 18, “As I’m sure you know, many City facilities constructed several decades ago were not designed with modern accessibility requirements in mind. However, Recreation and Parks has prioritized accessibility upgrades throughout the park system and continues to work aggressively to renovate older facilities.”
Watkins continued, “At Pacific Palisades Recreation Center, there is a newer recreation facility containing restrooms that meet ADA compliance requirements, which is within walking distance from the older recreation facility that you identified in your email. The newer facility is available for use during operational hours.
“Regarding George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon Park, we recently were informed that there was a sewer condition causing mechanical issues with the self-cleaning restrooms. Our City partners at the Bureau of Engineering (BOE) are currently working to address the issue. In the meantime, portable restrooms (including an ADA restroom) are being provided until the self-cleaning restrooms are reopened.”
CTN visited the Palisades Rec Center on July 19 at 8:30 a.m. There were signs posted on the bathroom doors that the ADA accessible bathrooms were at the large gym.
CTN walked to the large gym, which was closed, and the signs posted on the gym, said it would be closed for a summer camp.
CTN then walked to the Rec Center office to see if this editor could gain access to the ADA bathrooms.
No. No one is in the office before 9 a.m.
CTN checked with the RAP public spokesperson about the lack of access to the sole handicapped restroom at the Rec Center. Subsequently, the editor received an email from Park Director Jasmin Dowlatshahi:
“Regarding the use of the restroom in the big gym, we apologize for any confusion. Individuals who wish to use the bathroom in the big gym notify the staff in the office, as the big gym is closed to the public due to summer camps and classes. This allows us to accommodate their needs and ensure a safe and clean environment for everyone.
“We are all very concerned about accessibility for individuals with disabilities, seniors in wheelchairs, and those using walkers. We will continue to work with RAP, the PAB and the council office to make an effort to improve the amenities at the center. Our goal is to provide appropriate accommodations for all park visitors.”
CTN wrote Watkins, “handicapped and seniors need to notify staff in order to use the bathrooms in the large, gym, correct?”
RAP Superintendent Sonya Young-Jimenez responded, “Yes, that is correct. We have a summer camp right now and for the security and safety of the children we do not leave it unlocked.”
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to discriminate against people with handicaps. The purpose of the law is to make sure those people have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
Requiring a senior in a wheelchair to seek out office staff, so the gym door can be unlocked, in order to gain access to a bathroom, seems to be a barrier.