Fires, Vandalism in Woodland Park Restrooms Prompt Temporary Closure

WOODLAND -- The restrooms at popular Campbell Park in Woodland are relatively new, replacing older outdated facilities.

They get frequent use by parkgoers, as well as passersby.

But the doors to the newer, lower maintenance restrooms were locked for several days after fires were set in them, one by an apparent homeless person. A park worker caught one of the culprits setting toilet paper on fire.

That wasn't the first time a Woodland park restroom has been locked.

Police say after repeated vandalism, it gave them a chance to investigate and adjust patrol schedules to halt additional damage.

Tramell Johnson said he and his kids have used the restrooms when at the park. He said a small fire is no reason to close them, even for a few days.

"Clean it up, keep the bathrooms open," Johnson said. "I don't think you'd lock the bathrooms in your house because somebody pee on the toilet seat."

The vandalism of public restrooms in parks is not a problem unique to Woodland.

The restrooms at Sacramento's historic Cesar Chavez Park had been closed for two years after thousands of dollars worth of vandalism by homeless people who frequent the park.

Restrooms at other parks in Sacramento have been locked up after hypodermic needles and various other items clogged toilets and other acts of vandalism rendered them unusable.

"What we know about them is they take a lot of maintenance, no matter where they are in the city," said Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris.

Sacramento worries about the real health hazards if the homeless can't use public restrooms. But keeping them open and useable comes at a cost that cities are struggling to pay for.

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