City adding bathrooms to parks — ‘Palo Alto Process’ slows things down

The Magical Bridge Playground in Mitchell Park in Palo Alto. Photo from city website.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission are trying to get around the notoriously slow “Palo Alto process” to add bathrooms for disabled kids at Mitchell Park.

Commissioner Jeff Greenfield asked at a meeting on Tuesday if community fundraising could fast-track bathrooms next to the Magical Bridge Playground, which are currently planned for installation no sooner than 2026.

“If the community knew that was possible, I think there would be a lot of contributors and volunteers,” said Commissioner Anne Cribbs, who is
also fundraising to build a city-owned gym at Greer Park.

The city is adding two-stall bathrooms at Rinconada Park, Ramos Park
and Boulware Park this year, Community Services Director Kristen O’Kane said. Mitchell Park has one set of bathrooms, but they are 300 feet away.

“We admitted soon after the Magical Bridge (Playground) went in that we blew it,” Vice Mayor Ed Lauing said on May 7. “How could we do that? We got all these kids here, and they can’t walk as far, and some can’t walk, period.”

People who go to Pardee Park are also lobbying for a bathroom because the 10-acre park has none.

But the city only has money budgeted for new bathrooms every two years, O’Kane said.

“As of right now, it’s very much up in the air as to which restroom would come first, and where the restroom at Mitchell Park would actually go,” O’Kane told commissioners.

O’Kane said she would check with Public Works employees about using donations for the bathrooms, which cost about $600,000 to install.


  1. Those poor kids. Why $600K? That’s as mcuh as a house. What about using a vendor for a prefab disability bathroom where they pour a slab and install it the next day? That’s the obvious solution.

    • Because they have to bring in water and sewer. That needs trucks and backhoes and pipes and 12 contractors to stand around watching the one guy do the work. $600K is criminal! There’s no way that job went to competitive bid.

  2. The Palo Alto process is BROKEN! It is wrong for things to take this long in our city and cost so much. This doesn’t happen in other cities. We are our own worst enemy on these important projects.

    Think about that when you vote this fall. The current way of doing things needs to go. It is hubristic and just plain embarrassing.

  3. @Gregory – so you’re suggesting just dropping in a prefab bathroom on a slab with no sewer or water connection. Great idea.

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