San Jose City Hall had no diaper changing stations — until now

San Joseans now have a place to change their children’s diapers in City Hall — for the first time.

The Capital of Silicon Valley had no diaper changing stations in any of the 42 public restrooms inside City Hall. Now, on the first floor of City Hall, in both the men’s and women’s restrooms, two pull-down changing tables are mounted in the handicap accessible stalls for public use.

Prior to this week, making an infant’s defecation disposal was an inconvenient mess for visitors and the roughly 2,000 city workers in the government building.

After the two changing stations are installed this week, dozens more are on the way. The goal is to ensure every public restroom on all 18 floors of City Hall, the City Hall Wing and Rotunda have them, according to Walter Lin, the Public Works Department building manager for City Hall.

“Having them more available from a personal perspective, I would definitely appreciate as well,” said Lin, who’s a father of a 15-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, the latter of which is still in diapers. He said it’s a challenge taking his child anywhere without a changing station — whether City Hall or a restaurant.

“If there is not a changing station readily available in a restroom that we go into,” Lin said, “we typically have to go to the car and change her there, which is not as comfortable, not as private.”

Photo courtesy of San Jose Public Works Department.

The material and labor costs for each of the new diaper changing stations is $500, Lin said.

Lin and other city officials say this is the start of a push to make City Hall and other city facilities more “family friendly,” sparked by Councilmember Sylvia Arenas’s “Age and Family Friendly Initiative” — a proposal that was prioritized by councilors in a recent meeting.

“The initiative sort of sparked the conversation,” said Joe Garcia, deputy director for the city’s Public Works department.

Other government facilities in San Jose still need changing stations, he added, and the department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services has started mounting changing tables in libraries and community centers across the city.

“Looking at my numbers, we probably have about 258 more that need to be installed,” Garcia said.

Arenas said her initiative got “sliced up a little bit” when the council set its priorities on March 5. Certain pieces of her proposal were deferred to a budgetary committee for consideration, including her request for lactation rooms at City Hall. Her request for paid family leave made it onto the final priorities list.

Lactation rooms, Garcia said, can be “extremely expensive,” but he and Lin plan to look at premade “pods” designed as portable and private lactation facilities. Plans for the pods are not yet finalized.

Arenas’ initiative also asks city officials to study developing preschool and early education programs to host at or near City Hall.

“This might make a difference for that mom or that dad who has the toddler or infant,” Arenas said.”And [it would] just kind of make that visit that much more convenient.”

Contact Kyle Martin at kylebmartin96@gmail.com or follow him @Kyle_Martin35 on Twitter.

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