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Men: Changing your baby might get a little easier in Tampa

Tampa City Council member Luis Viera, a single dad, wants changing tables put in all future city-owned restrooms. City staff will report back in January. [Times files]
Tampa City Council member Luis Viera, a single dad, wants changing tables put in all future city-owned restrooms. City staff will report back in January. [Times files]
Published Dec. 20, 2018

TAMPA — Tampa City Council member Luis Viera remembers the frustration of trying to find a men's room to change a baby's diaper.

As a single father sharing custody of Luis Viera II, his now 11-year-old son, Viera wants to make sure other dads don't feel the deadline panic of having to find a safe place to avoid a stinky disaster.

At Thursday's council meeting, Viera proposed city staff prepare an ordinance to require changing tables in men and women's restrooms in all future city buildings.

"It's a small issue, but little things mean a lot," Viera said before his colleagues unanimously approved his proposal. City staff will report back in January.

After the meeting, Viera said he saw a viral video a few months ago of a Jacksonville man struggling to find an appropriate place to change his baby and it reminded him of his own experience.

"We thought it would be something good that the city could address," Viera said. "We thought at the very least we could deal with new construction."

Installing changing tables in current city-owned bathrooms would cost about $64,000, said Ocea Lattimore, director of the city's logistics and asset management department. About 150 tables in 60 locations would be needed, she said.

Viera said he hadn't discussed the issue with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who leaves office in May. The current budget was approved in September.

"This is a substantive and also symbolic ordinance," Viera said. "It's substantive in the sense that it's going to affect future construction, but it's also symbolic in the sense that it should give a gesture to the incoming administration that's something they should be pushing for in older construction. $64,000 is a lot of money, but that's something they can budget for."

Tampa's current budget is roughly $1 billion.

Buckhorn wasn't immediately available for comment Thursday.

Viera said the city needs to adapt to modern parenting practices: Dads change diapers.

"Both spouses are working and both folks have got to take significant responsibilities,'' he said. "To only have changing stations in the female restrooms, that's also a social statement. That's a social statement that child-rearing is only a female responsibility. I think we're a little bit past that as a society."

Viera, elected in late 2016 in a close contest when Lisa Montelione, who resigned to run unsuccessfully for a state House seat, is seeking reelection to a second term in March. Currently, he is opposed by Quinton F. Robinson.

His district stretches from Forrest Hills and North Tampa through New Tampa.

The next council meeting is Jan. 10.