California public restroom law encompasses a variety of elements. Public restroom law governs everything from the construction and design to the maintenance of these facilities. California and federal law govern accessibility issues for individuals with disabilities. California laws also impact the manner in which a public restroom in the state is utilized by a patron.
California is one of several states in the United States that enacted what are known as public restroom equality laws. These laws are based on the research and theory developed by Dr. Karl Queuing, oftentimes referred to as the Queuing Theory or Waiting Line Theory. Based on this theory, California's public restroom equality law mandates that new public construction projects and major remodels of existing public premises include a female to male bathroom ration of two to one.
Health and Safety Code
The California Health and Safety Code includes provisions governing public restrooms in the state. Restroom facilities available to the public need to be maintained in reasonable repair and sanitary condition. A member of the public cannot be exposed to any unreasonable danger arising from the physical premises or from the sanitary condition of a restroom. Typically local building codes govern what is considered an unsuitable physical risk arising from the state of the premises. General health codes addressing sanitation issues dictate the cleanliness of a public restroom.
Access for the Disabled
Public restrooms in California must comply with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it comes to issues pertaining to access for individuals who are disabled. Pursuant to California law and the ADA, reasonable accommodations must be made in regard to public restrooms. A public restroom does not need to provide any conceivable accommodation; rather, only those that are reasonable through a cost and benefit analysis are required. For example, one stall in a public restroom needs to be accessible to the physically handicapped. Not every stall unit needs to modified in that manner.
A common misconception surrounding California public restrooms is that all toilets must have seat covers in addition to the standard seat found in these types of facilities. In fact, the purported requirement that a California public toilet come complete with a seat cover is a myth and is not a legal requirement.
California laws pertaining to public lewdness fully are enforced in public restrooms in the state. Singer George Michael was arrested in a public restroom in Beverly Hills on a charge of engaging in a lewd act. He was arrested as part of an undercover sting undertaken in the public restroom by the Beverly Hills Police Department.