A woman and her baby stroll through the courtyard. Photo by Rachel Chaney.
A new City rule requires baby changing stations in a variety of new building construction projects. Credit: Rachel Chaney for the San Antonio Report

San Antonio City Council unanimously approved Thursday a rule that requires new buildings – including City-owned buildings, churches, restaurants, hospitals, and retail shops – to have a baby changing station in at least one bathroom on each floor that is accessible to males and females.

“I know it seems like a small deal, but it really is a big deal to a lot of parents,” said Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8), who initiated the requirement last April.

Pelaez recalled having to change his children’s diapers in a parking lot because the restaurant his family was visiting didn’t have a baby-changing station in its restrooms.

“We all have our war stories,” Development Services Department Director Michael Shannon said at a previous meeting about the new rule. The department estimated that the equipment and installation – depending on quality – would cost between $450 and $1,000.

“We felt that cost was minimal for the benefit,” Shannon said.

The Real Estate Council of San Antonio, Building Owners and Managers Association, San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association, and the San Antonio Restaurant Association supported the new rule, Pelaez said. “This is a consensus effort that came about because everybody understood.”

The new ordinance, which takes effect June 3 and will not be retroactive, models those implemented in Dallas, New York City, New York state, and New Mexico. Buildings undergoing major renovations also must comply with the new rule.

Pelaez was thankful he won’t be a beneficiary of the new rule. “I am so glad I’m not changing diapers anymore,” he said.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org