“Finally! A place where I can shit in opulence,” said one Sand&Foam guest.
Photo by Amit Roth
An upcoming amendment to the employee training guide of La Jolla coffee shop Sand&Foam will require employees, when a non-paying customer requests the bathroom code, to call a courthouse to confirm that the customer owns at least three acres of land before giving them the 16-digit code and bathroom key tied to an armchair. “I don’t think this is illegal,” Mandy Lumpkin, owner of Sand&Foam, said in a press release.
The planned amendment has been controversial among La Jolla employees, residents, and visitors. When one barista asked if they could still use the bathroom at their workplace, noting that they “hate [themself] for even asking the question,” Lumpkin responded: “Due to OSHA forcing us, you are permitted, I guess. Sent from my iPhone.”
Residents’ reactions have been mixed. One La Jolla resident commented, “It takes 40 minutes to walk over and back from the toilets at the beach, you know. It was pretty annoying to be out downtown with my kids and have to buy a $6 coffee if one of them needed to pee right away. It was also pretty annoying when I was pregnant, and when I had a UTI, and when I broke my leg and couldn’t use the beach toilets or drive myself home.” The resident was silent for several minutes, then continued, “So luckily there are no barriers to or disparity in land ownership for anybody. Otherwise this would suck for poor people, and disabled people, and homeless people, and people whose families were historically prohibited from owning land, and people whose land has been repeatedly stolen by White settlers…” The resident paused for a long time, then went home without saying anything.
Meanwhile, the response from many visitors has been critical. Rageon Plethora reported that she is not planning to buy three acres of land to be allowed to use a bathroom in La Jolla. “This is the kind of cruelty that people find acceptable because it’s hurting people who are already marginalized,” Plethora said. “Can you feel no empathy for our shared basic need? It’s not your fault that it’s the norm in this country that the nearest publicly funded restroom is usually over half an hour away, if it exists at all, but you could try to alleviate one person’s suffering even if you can’t solve an issue that’s existed in various forms for hundreds of years.”
In response to criticism like Plethora’s, Lumpkin has argued that bathroom access shouldn’t be privatized: “If you guys want a free service, then don’t ask a business whose job it is to make money to provide it. I pay for this restaurant with my own, hard-earned generational wealth, okay? I know I made the rule, but none of you outraged public are boycotting my $11 ube croissants.”
When asked for comment on the community’s lack of public restrooms, John Sprout, Mayor/Duke of La Jolla, said, “People can figure it out. I mean, the ocean is right there.”