A new bill affecting all parents is moving forward in the Honolulu City Council.
Councilman Trevor Ozawa recently introduced legislation that would require businesses to install changing tables in restrooms for both men and women.
The bill unanimously passed its first reading Thursday and now goes to a second hearing before the full council on Wednesday, July 8.
Ozawa is himself a father, and for him, the bill is personal, one that hit home when he was with his baby girl at a restaurant.
“It was just me and my daughter at a function and I had to change her diaper. I asked the waiter where do I go to change her diaper? He said in the restroom. But I’m going in the men’s restroom and there was no baby changing station.”
He says he went into the family restroom and that didn’t have a baby changing station either. But he learned the women’s bathroom did have one.
So his measure requires the installation of diaper changing stations at new establishments, or those that undergo significant renovations.
“The point is to have fair and open access to both men and women to change babies,” he said.
Ozawa also points out having a changing station is sanitary and that this is ultimately a public health issue.
Jodee Chang Is a mother of two and couldn’t agree more.
“I think a men’s bathroom itself is a very unsanitary place,” Chang said. “I think it’s a great proposal because all of us of been in that situation where we were busy. We had to give her babies to a guy to help in that situation, and so, yeah, I think it’s a great bill.”
The Side Street Inn on Kapahulu built a changing station in the women’s bathroom, knowing it would be a family restaurant, but the men’s bathroom doesn’t have one yet.
“So now they want to put this into a bill or what not,” said operations manager Robbie Acoba. “Hey, we’re ahead of ourselves. We got a space for it, so when that happens, we’re ready to go.”
Ozawa said, in the end, this bill not only help parents but anybody who uses a public restroom, “because it will provide a safer, healthier place at many places that are malls, restaurants and public parks.”
He said he’d like to see the city take the lead in providing bathroom parity, starting with city parks and recreation centers.