Discomfort stations? Locals frustrated by ‘terrible state’ of restrooms, showers at Shores’ Kellogg Park

The showers at Kellogg Park's south "comfort station" were turned off for several days this month due to a broken valve.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

La Jolla Shores sees hundreds of thousands of visitors to Kellogg Park and the adjacent beach every month, but locals say they’re frustrated and embarrassed by what they see as a lapse in the city of San Diego’s maintenance and repair of the park.

The restrooms are in serious need of regular cleaning, the showers aren’t functioning properly and the amount of maintenance needed puts an “undue burden” on the limited staff the city assigns to the park, according to La Jolla Shores resident Mike McCormack.

McCormack walks Kellogg Park daily, helping to sweep the playground and boardwalk and check on its facilities, he said.

In doing so, McCormack said he has gotten to know staff operations around the park’s south “comfort station,” or restroom and shower facility.

The six showers at that station were turned off around Aug. 2, McCormack said, with dozens of beach-goers instead rinsing off at the sinks and clogging the drains with sand.

McCormack said the showers were working as of Aug. 11, after much discussion with city workers and the office of City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla.

McCormack said a city maintenance worker he spoke with Aug. 6 said two valves inside the comfort station control three showers each and that both were turned off because one shower spigot had been running continuously.

With swimmers, walkers, surfers and divers all seeking to use the showers, having all of them turned off puts the comfort station in “a terrible state,” McCormack said.

Steve Hadley, LaCava’s field representative for La Jolla, said at the Aug. 10 meeting of the La Jolla Shores Association that he learned from city officials that plumbers would repair the broken valve.

Without the repair, Hadley said, “it’s a muddy mess at the south showers.”

This Kellogg Park toilet, photographed Aug. 14, shows the state of some "comfort station" restrooms.
This Kellogg Park toilet, photographed Aug. 14, shows the state of some “comfort station” restrooms.
(Mike McCormack)

In addition, the toilets at the south comfort station are in an ongoing state of uncleanliness, McCormack said.

On Aug. 14, he said, he saw clogged toilets, fecal matter spread around in stalls and no soap in the dispensers.

“It’s an abhorrence,” McCormack said. “It’s embarrassing.”

Staffing in the past several months has been “woefully inadequate,” with only one employee for several shoreline parks, he said.

Hadley said the city continues to face staffing shortages in shoreline areas, with 23 vacancies out of 37 positions.

LaCava said in a statement to the La Jolla Light that the city has hired six new grounds maintenance workers who will begin Tuesday, Aug. 23.

“We are further incentivizing staff with optional overtime to accelerate the city’s work,” the councilman said.

City spokesman Tim Graham said he was unable to provide immediate confirmation or a response.

An illustration shows a redesign for drain repairs at the Kellogg Park north "comfort station."
(Courtesy of Mary Coakley Munk)

At the north comfort station, repairs on the shower drain are still awaited, with the city gearing up to initiate a planned redesign after years of concern.

The drain currently allows shower water to run across the sidewalk toward the beach, mixing with sand to create a wet, messy hazard.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” La Jolla Shores Association board member Mary Coakley Munk said of the delay in repairs.

She said the city has proposed to move the drain a few feet toward the ocean, extending it around three sides of the water runoff and connecting it with an existing sand trap that runs to Camino del Oro.

Coakley Munk said the new plans seem to exempt the city from having to prevent rainwater from entering the drain, a city regulation.

“The only good news about the project is initially they were going to move the benches,” she said, and the current plan leaves the benches as they are.

Hadley stated the design will go ahead without further input from LJSA, and LaCava indicated the work will begin in late September or early October.

Nonetheless, LJSA President Janie Emerson said the rainwater that will go into the sewer, along with the potential for sand to be caught in the drain, indicate the plan is flawed. She said a letter from the association to the city will be drafted for approval at LJSA’s September meeting.

Trash accumulation also continues to be a problem due to the understaffing, McCormack said.

LaCava agreed, saying he continues “to press city staff to address the variety of issues at Kellogg Park. … Like La Jollans and visitors to the park, I, too, am frustrated.”

LaCava said his office will monitor the city’s progress every week toward making Kellogg Park sanitary and safe.

Coakley Munk suggested the city adopt a “Pack in, pack out” motto for the park, encouraging visitors to take their trash with them “until and unless people begin to respect the park and beach.”

Expecting one person to maintain the entire park is a “recipe for disaster,” she said. ◆