County opens Bear Valley restrooms, trash hauler donates time clearing park

01/09/2019

Citing unsanitary conditions at bathrooms in the Point Reyes National Seashore due to the government shutdown, Marin supervisors on Tuesday agreed to let county parks staff unlock and operate the restrooms in the Bear Valley Visitor Center parking lot. The parks department, which moved at the request of Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, said that since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, visitors had been using restroom facilities at nearby county-managed park areas, causing unsanitary conditions and overcrowding there, too, according to Marin County Parks director Max Korten. The agreement allows the county to maintain the Bear Valley restrooms for 14 days or until the shutdown ends. Mr. Korten estimated that the purchase of additional supplies and trash disposal would cost less than $1,000 and would be covered by the county parks’ general fund. Around the seashore, many vault toilets that were left open at the outset of the shutdown have since been closed, including those at the lighthouse parking lot and the North District Operations Center. In addition, to help clear out trash from receptacles that seashore staff are not emptying, the Novato-based junk removal company Green Hauling has stepped in at no charge. On Jan. 3 and 4, the company cleaned out garbage cans, dumpsters and debris at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, Limantour Beach, Drakes Beach, the lighthouse, Chimney Rock, McClures Beach, Pierce Point Ranch and Kehoe Beach. The company’s owner, Amy Brayton, reported that people were dumping “leftover holiday wrapping paper, holiday box toys, a broken crab pot, and…even a broken chair” at sites around the park. (She added that most of the bathrooms “were overflowing with human waste and were a bio hazard.”) The company has vowed to return to the park should its services be needed, reflecting a trend across the nation of people and organizations stepping in to pick up what the federal government is forced to let slide.