Austin City Council members are requiring any new restaurants, theaters, stores and similar establishments to ensure they provide enough diaper-changing stations.
Council Member Paige Ellis, who represents Southwest Austin, brought the measure forward. Her office told KUT several fathers had emailed requesting the change, saying sometimes they’d had to change their kids on the restroom floor or go to their car to do it.
“Oftentimes we think of diaper-changing stations as easily accessible in only the ladies’ room,” Ellis said at the council’s regular meeting on Thursday. “And as we know, Austin is a community that doesn’t stick to those types of old-fashioned norms. … We have many people in our community that participate in child-rearing.”
Under the ordinance, owners building gender-specific restrooms in a new or renovated store or restaurant must provide one diaper-changing station in the women's restroom and one in the men's room on each floor. If there is a gender-neutral bathroom, there needs to be only one diaper-changing station.
Staff found that it would be too burdensome to require existing businesses to do this and so nixed this from the item – although the city will retrofit several of its own buildings, including City Hall, the Montopolis Neighborhood Center and two Austin Police Department substations. The city estimated it would finish the work next month. It'll cost $15,000.
The measure will not apply to public restrooms the city will be installing in parts of downtown.