Dallas could be on the verge of limiting a headache for new parents—the inability to find a place to change a diaper while out and about. On Monday, the city’s Quality of Life, Arts & Culture committee was briefed on an ordinance that would require changing tables accessible to men and women in restrooms at restaurants, retail stores, theaters, and city-owned buildings. It would apply only to new construction and major renovations, meaning existing restaurants don’t have to comply.
New York City put something similar on the books last year.
“We always like to be among the first to do progressive things,” said Councilwoman Sandy Greyson, who represents Far North Dallas. “So we’ll be the second, maybe.”
Greyson pushed for and received one tweak. She wanted to do away with a requirement that the changing tables be on every floor. Instead, restaurants could direct parents to a restroom on another floor. Councilman Scott Griggs, who represents Oak Cliff and has spearheaded the change, said he was open to that. The committee forwarded that version on to City Council for consideration.
For some, one potential holdup is in overburdening small businesses. “We want homegrown restaurants, pop-ups, and if our regulations get so onerous that we’re not able to allow that in all communities, it’s concerning,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates.
Most backed the spirit of the law, that it would even out the responsibilities for mothers and fathers, if not yet the specific language.
“I just don’t want to do something with unintended consequences, trying to do the right thing,” said Councilman Mark Clayton.
Baby changing tables on average cost a couple hundred dollars each, but they can jump up to $1,000 for fancy steel versions.