A new state law could require baby changing stations inside certain public restrooms

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - It's a problem many parents face every time they venture out of the home: finding a public restroom equipped with a baby changing station.

A California lawmaker is authoring new legislation that would require certain men's and women's public restrooms, restaurants and department stores to install baby changing stations.

"I'm a single dad so I don't have the option to pass my baby off to my significant other to change in the women's bathroom," said Adam Miller, Director of Operations for Rabobank Arena, Theater and Convention Center.

Adam Miller isn't alone. Many parents find it difficult to find a changing station inside public restrooms.

"It's more of one of the things you notice when they're not there," said Miller. Miller works for Rabobank Arena, Theater and Convention Center. The building was built in the late '60s. When the arena was built in 1998, all 20 of the facility's restrooms were equipped with baby changing stations including the men's, women's and family restrooms.

"In every public restroom, we have a baby changing station," said Miller. Miller breaks down the cost of each changing table and says prices can range from $250 depending on what style you want but for the average company or business, the investment could be upwards of $500.

"They're not that expensive. You can fit them pretty much anywhere so there's -- I think the people that don't have them either aren't thinking about them or don't have kids themselves," said Miller.

Miller explains how the lack of baby changing stations inside public restrooms at a facility like Rabobank could pose several issues.

"If we didn't have these it would be a huge inconvenience to our guests that sometimes park away from the facility and walk, if we didn't have them available, it would create a disservice to our customers," said Miller.

Their venue holds several family-friendly events which draws families with small babies. "Obviously, we consider ourselves a family-friendly facility. A lot of the events we do are geared toward families so having the changing tables in our public restrooms is a necessity just because of so many families and babies and toddlers that we have coming into the building whether it's for a Condor game, for Disney on Ice, for any of the family-oriented entertainment that we have we like to provide that service and if we didn't it would definitely be an issue," said Nick Wynne who works as the Marketing Manager for Rabobank Arena. "It's a necessity we provide voluntarily to guests but at some point, you have to change your child though I feel it's something all public rest rooms should have."

New California legislation may make that service a new standard in all buildings owned by state and local agencies. The requirement: to equip their men's and women's restrooms with baby changing stations, if the facility doesn't already have them.

"If we didn't have those available here, I'm sure we'd hear of complaints from guests," said Wynne. The law would also apply to specific privately owned businesses, restaurants with at least 50 seats, and retail stores of more than 5,000 square feet.

The author of the bill is California lawmaker, Ian Calderon, who is also an expecting father.

"I do think it is in a lot of ways a gender equity bill and I think that there naturally are more baby changing stations in women's restrooms than there are men and quite honestly just that fact alone is a little bit sexist that the requirement is automatically assumed to be on the mother, not the father," said Ian Calderon, a Democratic California Assemblyman of Whittier. "Fathers are spending a lot more time with their kids and they need to be able to have the access to baby changing stations in the restroom so that when the family's out the fathers can contribute to the role of co-parenting and that the responsibilities aren't always falling on the mother."

Establishments equipped with mixed-gender rest rooms would not be required to install changing stations in their men's and women's bathrooms.


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