10/11/2018 0 Comments
HOBOKEN — Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced a proposed ordinance at a press conference on Wednesday requiring all public and private single-occupancy restrooms in the city to be gender-neutral, expanding on an executive order he signed the same day mandating that all single occupancy city-owned bathrooms would be gender neutral by the end of May. The ordinance would be up for a vote of the City Council at their meeting on Wednesday, May 2.
Initially, a city spokesman told the Reporter that the executive order about single-occupancy restrooms only applied to two in City Hall. But he contacted the reporter Thursday stating the initial number was incorrect. The measure will apply to as many as 18 restrooms in city buildings, including in firehouses.
The ordinance that goes with the executive order goes a step further to include private single-occupancy bathrooms.
When asked if the city planned to find out if private businesses throughout the city are complying, city spokesperson Santiago Melli-Huber said inspections would occur.
Melli-Huber also stated that gender neutral bathrooms are not the same as unisex bathrooms and that “The ordinance does specify ‘all-gender,’ which is different than ‘unisex.’ The city, for example, is ordering signs that do not have the male and female stick figures and instead say ‘all-gender.’ ”
If passed by the council, Hoboken will be the first city in the state of New Jersey, and one of few cities nationally, to pass such a law.
“This is a chance for Hoboken to lead the state and the country in affirming the civil rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Bhalla in a press release.
The city will change all affected restroom signs by May 31 in time for the start of June, which is LGBT Pride Month.
If the ordinance is passed on Wednesday, existing businesses and other affected entities will have 60 days from the effective date to comply. They are to replace existing gender-specific signage with gender-neutral signage.
New businesses and establishments must comply upon opening to the public.
According to Melli-Huber, if private establishments do not comply, the Violations and Penalties section of the Health/Sanitary Code would apply to establishments that are in violation of the law. This section of code state that violators could be subject to fines, a minimum of $100 to a maximum $1,000, or community service.
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