Beach visitors generally hold their noses - or they avoid the restrooms altogether.
Over the years, despite regular maintenance, residents would routinely complain about the foul conditions of some bathrooms at local beaches and parks.
Now, however, the city is about to launch a new effort to upgrade the beach restrooms - with the first of three budgets to be reviewed Tuesday by the City Council, which will consider approving a plan to upgrade four restrooms at a price tag of more than $2 million in Tidelands funds..
The four restrooms are at Queensway Bay, Cherry Beach at Bixby Park, Coronado Avenue and 8th Place
"The men's and women's restrooms ... are in a dilapidated condition and are in need of replacement to improve security and utility in these popular beach and harbor destinations," Ara Maloyan, acting director of Public Works, said in a council staff report.
Eric Lopez, Tidelands capital projects program manager, said the old restrooms will be demolished, and that there will be new plumbing and a new foundation to make the bathrooms more accessible as required by the American Disabilities Act.
The new restrooms will have single stalls, and they will be designed for natural lighting and ventilation.
Santa Clara-based Machone Development Inc. is being awarded the contract.
Another set of six restrooms will be ready for the council's vote in a month or two, Lopez said Friday, adding that a final set of restrooms will be recommended for upgrades before the end of the year.
"Improving the restrooms ... is long overdue," said Councilman Gary DeLong, whose 3rd District includes the peninsula beach area.
Second District Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal agreed that the upgrades were badly needed.
"Our current bathrooms along the beach are obsolete and the plumbing is failing, so the new bathrooms will offer families and visitors a cleaner, safer experience," she said.
Lowenthal said the individual stalls will be much easier for City staff to maintain.
"They're also more sustainable because they make use of natural lighting and ventilation," Lowenthal added.
The bathroom facility near Rainbow Harbor and the Aquarium has been a trailer for several years, she said.
Mark Sandoval, manager of the Marine Bureau, said that about four sites have been improved with either new restrooms or restoration work. Two restrooms were added to the Marine Stadium area, and the Mother's Beach restroom was upgraded, he added.
Another restroom at the end of the peninsula at 72nd Place was also renovated.
DeLong said that it's been mainly free of problems.
"Vandalism has been very low, thanks in part to the custodial work" he added. "They do a great job.