Newport Beach is boosting its investment in the cleanliness of its public restrooms.
The City Council approved a beefed-up contract this week with its janitorial service provider to pay $2.4 million over three years to keep 30 standalone bathrooms at local parks and beaches stocked and sanitary.
Under the new terms, workers from Ed Building Maintenance of Diamond Bar will clean the 14 bathrooms the city maintains in parks and the 16 along the ocean and bay fronts for an extended peak season using more roving all-day crews in addition to twice-daily standard cleanings.
All the restrooms are open 24 hours, except for three in parks.
“The challenge with locking them, there’s a few locals, I’ll say, that use [a] restroom and if it’s locked … you’ll have a mess at the door,” said city facilities manager Kyle Brodowski.
The city has incrementally increased its restroom coverage in the past year and a half but is still getting complaints, Deputy Public Works Director Micah Martin told the council Tuesday night.
Public restrooms are front-line facilities — visitors and residents are likely to use them, and the city wants them to have a good experience.
“When you go places, you remember the times you’ve used the restroom that was in poor condition,” Martin said. “That sticks with you.”
Issues with staffing dependability and consistency arose under a different contractor, ABM Janitorial, and negative feedback increased after Newport outsourced janitorial services in 2011, according to a city staff report. That led the city to add Ed Building Maintenance last year as a supplemental custodian. At that time, the city was spending about $470,000 a year between the two janitorial contracts.
In February, the city dropped the previous contractor and gave Ed Building Maintenance full rein with added personnel. But with the added work, the firm was quickly running through the money allotted under its agreement.
So this week the council approved a new contract for Ed Building Maintenance worth about $800,000 a year, with even more responsibilities.
The new peak season in terms of bathroom cleanliness will be considered as March to October, an extension from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The firm will have four roving two-person crews to continuously tackle 16 high-use restroom locations from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Previously there were three roving two-person crews assigned to seven restrooms.
Some of the highest-use bathrooms are at the two municipal piers, Corona del Mar State Beach and the ferry landing and fire station on Balboa Island.
Though the city is still fielding complaints, the comments have decreased, and crews get compliments too, Brodowski said. One user who recently dropped by the bathroom at the end of the Newport Pier told city employees she “was thrilled that it was so clean,” according to Brodowski.