Homeless man is denied use of luxury San Jose Fairmont hotel's restroom, but law is on his side

Rooms at San Jose’s most famous luxury hotel, the downtown Fairmont, can be had for $264 per night this weekend. If you just want to walk in and use the downstairs bathroom, it’s free – though it took a homeless man to remind the hotel of that recently.

Pascual Mendivil, one of San Jose’s estimated 4,350 homeless, went to city hall to complain after he says he was twice forced to leave the Fairmont. He had the law on his side: a rare deal with the city mandates that the public be allowed to use its ground-floor facilities.

“The first time, I just asked to use the telephone,” Mendivil, 67, told the San Jose Mercury News. “They asked if I was a guest and then told me to get out. Another time I went to use the restroom and a guy in a suit with a walkie talkie told me to get out, he told me I couldn’t use the facilities if I wasn’t a guest.”

When the 22-story Fairmont opened in 1987, it did so with $28.2 million contributed by the city’s redevelopment agency (the total project cost $140 million). With that public financing, the Fairmont agreed to allow public use of its ground floor until the year 2071.

Mendivil recalled reading about the deal, and after he visited City Attorney Rick Doyle, he left with documents proving it.

“This is the price you pay for public dollars in a major project, Doyle told KPIX. Some $28 million went into it and in exchange, the public has the right to use the restroom.”

The public covenant doesn’t change even if the hotel is sold, which it did in January 2018 for $223 million.

Doyle told the Mercury News he has had to remind the Fairmont about the deal before, including in 1996, when his office found nearby signs declaring that “the facilities of this hotel are for the exclusive use of guests and patrons of this hotel.”

For its part, the Fairmont gave a written statement saying it’s “proud to honor” the agreement it has with San Jose.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Homeless-man-san-jose-fairmont-restroom-13671582.php.

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