Neglected public restrooms in an overlooked part of San Jose are finally getting attention from the city.

City workers recently opened the restrooms in Alviso Park next to the public swimming pool. Councilmember David Cohen, whose district includes the park, told San José Spotlight the restrooms have been mostly closed to the public for the past 10 years due to maintenance problems. They’re now accessible year-round.

“These are often the kind of problems that go unresolved for years and years unless we’re listening to the concerns of the local community,” Cohen said, adding he first heard about this problem from several Alviso residents.

The restrooms at Alviso Park have historically been prone to plumbing issues, city spokesperson Daniel Lazo told San José Spotlight. Due to backup issues during winter, the restrooms were only open to people who used the pool during the summer. Unlike restrooms in most San Jose parks, the facilities in Alviso Park were not under a city custodial contract — instead, they were managed by the third-party operator of the pool, AnT Swim School.

An AnT Swim employee named Nick told San José Spotlight the restrooms have experienced pipe blockages that cause sewage backups. The pool is only open during summer months, so the company used to close the restrooms during the rest of the year.

“We were only really responsible for the pool area itself, not the bathrooms — that was outside our area,” said Nick, who declined to give his last name.

Getting city’s attention

Last summer, the city investigated a backflow issue caused by a root intrusion in the sewer line from nearby trees. The city inspected and replaced 20 feet of restroom pipelines, and recently decided to give the facilities regular attention.

“With stewardship in mind, these restrooms are now part of the parks custodial services contract and will have regular cleaning service and be open to the general public,” Lazo said.

Richard Santos, a former Alviso resident who serves on the board of directors for Valley Water, said he’s happy the city opened the bathrooms, but is upset it took so long to accomplish.

“San Jose should have done it regardless of who’s in office,” he said.

Santos said the years of confusion over maintaining a single public restroom is typical of how San Jose treats Alviso. Last year, a fire claimed the H.G. Wade Warehouse — one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood. Code enforcement records revealed a long history of San Jose’s fruitless attempts to keep the building from falling into further disrepair. Residents complain that the city has done little to address illegal dumping and fireworks.

Santos noted families have been unable to fully enjoy the park because of the locked bathrooms, the untamed weeds and the lack of proper lighting at night. He also said flooding in the park is a perennial problem.

“I go to (Willow Glen) Willow Street Park, I walk it and I don’t see any problems,” Santos told San José Spotlight, adding amenities found in other city parks are lacking in Alviso. “We don’t have bocce ball, we don’t have anything out here.”

Contact Eli Wolfe at or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter. 

This story originally appeared in San Jose Spotlight.