County cites Henry Miller Library for a bathroom shortage.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
All it took was one woman getting pissy last June about the dearth of bathrooms at Big Sur’s Henry Miller Memorial Library for the county Health Department to lay down the literal law on the venue. Now, the nonprofit center is planning a septic system upgrade that could cost $50,000.
According to Roger Van Horn, the county’s senior environmental health specialist, Henry Miller’s limited loo situation – just two on-site toilets – wasn’t just annoying for the patron who called the county Sheriff’s Office to complain. It was also breaking the rules.
County code requires a venue to provide “no less than one toilet seat per 40 persons,” but Henry Miller hosts big-name concerts and movie screenings that can draw hundreds of guests.
“We really weren’t aware they were having that many events with that many people there,” Van Horn says.
Event staff brought in port-a-potties for some larger events, and the county has restricted Henry Miller to 10 events annually with 80 or more guests until more permanent privies are in place.
Van Horn has been working with Henry Miller’s executive director, Magnus Toren, and staff at Big Sur Land Trust, which owns the library’s land, to bring the venue into code compliance.
Toren says an engineer has done preliminary evaluations for a new underground septic system, slated for installation in early 2013. There are no firm figures on cost; Van Horn says similar projects cost around $50,000.
“It’s going to be a pretty big nut for us to crack,” Toren says. He plans to start fundraising early next year, and hopes the library’s fan base contributes to the cause. If not, he adds, “The library as we know it will no longer be able to do what we do.”