Changes to San Jose City Hall gives parents proper place to change diapers

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of San Jose is helping to build a better Bay Area with babies in mind.

San Jose is known as the center of innovation, and is touted as the Capital of Silicon Valley. However, all the advancements in technology are no match for the task of changing dirty diapers.

RELATED: Photo of dad and baby on floor sparks call for diaper-changing stations in men's restrooms

For the first time, mothers and fathers visiting City Hall will have a proper place to do so.

San Jose Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas met with ABC7 News on Tuesday. When asked, "What does City Hall have now that they didn't two weeks ago?" Arenas answered, "Diaper changing stations."

Arenas is a mother of two. She recently made the push to put stations in public bathrooms across City Hall through her "Age and Family Friendly Initiative."

The initiative considers "family friendly" facilities across the city, it explores child care options at City Hall, and reconsiders paid family leave policies for city employees.

She said changing stations are the first step.

"Sometimes, as a mom, we have to go back to our cars and then do the diaper changing station there," she said. "Convert the back of your car into a diaper changing station, and that's not okay for families."

Without proper facilities, Arenas acknowledged parents end up paying the extra expense for childcare when too many concerns arise.

RELATED: Father rants after finding no changing table in men's room

"Where do I go to leave my baby or my child while I go to City Hall to get a license," she asked while explaining the thought process for a parent. "Now they can bring the child with them, be able to change the child in the restrooms."

In the next two months, 42 public bathrooms at San Jose City Hall will come equipped with Koala Kare stations. Parents can access the stations inside handicap accessible stalls.

The installation costs roughly $200, the hardware around $300. Arenas says the $500 price-tag is a small price to pay for a proper place to change dirty diapers.

Sarah Wood will know that reality in just a few weeks. The expectant mother didn't want her face on camera, but allowed ABC7 News to record her eight month baby bump.

"As a new mom, I'm definitely going to start noticing where places are to change, and where there are places I know I don't want to change my baby," she said.

Wood works for the City of San Jose and adds she's happy City Hall is now offering the option.

"I definitely want to come visit my co-workers and show off the baby," Wood added. "So, now that I have this in my mind, that we have places to go, then it'll be easier for me."

Wood was surprised the city didn't already have the stations in place, "I think it's all-around just a standard that we should be implementing and we should have already implemented."

Councilwoman Arenas said the next step hopefully involves getting changing stations into community centers and libraries.

"We're building a better Bay Area by making sure we have the facilities that are family friendly," she said. "We're going to make sure that we also have some legislative actions."

Beyond adding changing stations, Arenas hopes the city considers lactation rooms and a License-Exempt childcare facility at City Hall.

Arenas wants city employees to have access to a Recreation Preschool program to help improve standards of early learning.

As part of her initiative, Arenas also wants to review and bring back measures to clarify and expand Long-term Disability insurance to provide at least six weeks of Paid Family Leave for city workers.

She explained city employees don't pay into California disability. Therefore there is no paid family leave program.

"I'm a mom of two," Arenas told ABC7 News. "So I know how difficult it is to live in the Bay Area with a high cost of living, and with childcare being the second cost next to your mortgage or rent."

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