SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – On Santa Fe’s historic Plaza, Frances Payne works shifts at an information booth answering questions from visitors from around the world. The most common query she gets has nothing to do with Santa Fe’s history or things to do around town.
It’s about where to find a bathroom.
“It’s an urgent question,” Payne said. “There isn’t any obvious place where they can go to the bathroom.”
“We have very few bathrooms where we can send people and we have lots of guests.”
Suzanne Hawley, a visitor from Kansas City, wandered up to the booth while KRQE News 13 was there.
“We went into the Palace of the Governors and there was no public restroom and we’re like, ‘Ok…'” Hawley said.
The Plaza Cafe’s facilities are for customers only. Even the state-owned New Mexico History Museum just off the Plaza has a sign up saying they have no public restrooms.
This is not a new problem. Two years ago, a city survey found a lack of restrooms was the top Plaza concern for both residents and visitors alike.
Santa Fe city councilor Peter Ives is pressing for a solution to the long-running issue. He’s introduced a resolution that requires the city manager to study the issue over the next six months and report back with solutions.
One idea already on the table is giving businesses to the public a discount on their utilities if they help out.
“Creating some sort of special rate for, for instance, the restaurants that might open their facilities to the public,” Ives said.
The hope is to have a solution in place in time for next year’s summer crowds.
“I would certainly hope that we’d have whatever we need to have by the time the season starts picking up in May,” Ives said.
Payne would appreciate that.
“Then we could spend more time with the people who really want to know about Santa Fe and how to get there and what to do,” Payne said.
The resolution is set to be considered Wednesday night.