LA pilot program will offer free menstrual products at city libraries

The Los Angeles City Council moved forward Tuesday with a pilot program to provide free menstrual products in restrooms at five public libraries.

The program was initiated in a motion introduced in 2019 by Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who on Tuesday called the program "long overdue," saying the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed the effort.

"The city should provide menstrual products in its restroom in the way that it provides other basic hygiene products, like toilet paper, soap and paper towels," Blumenfield said. "Equity isn't treating everybody exactly the same, it's recognizing that some groups of people, in this case women and some transgender men, have different needs that must be met in order for them to fully participate in the services that the city offers."

The pilot program, which was approved with a 14-0 vote by the City Council Tuesday, will begin at 30 unisex and women's restrooms at the following libraries:

  • Central Library, at 630 W. Fifth St.
  • Canoga Park Branch Library, at 20939 Sherman Way
  • West Valley Branch Library, at 19036 Vanowen St.
  • Los Feliz Branch Library, at 1874 Hillhurst Ave. 
  • Will & Ariel Durant Branch Library, at 7140 W. Sunset Blvd in Hollywood

According to the Department of General Services, the locations were chosen "as they represent a diversity of racial and economic populations, including persons experiencing homelessness."

SUGGESTED: California now requiring free menstrual products in public schools

The total cost of the program over two years is $53,205, which includes the monthly supply costs and the one-time cost of purchasing and installing dispensers. General Services estimated that each restroom would provide 60 menstrual products per day — 30 sanitary napkins and 30 tampons.

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"I look forward to the results of this pilot and ultimately to expanding this to all city restrooms across the city," Blumenfield said. "The purpose of this pilot is to test out different distribution mechanisms to see what works because we know this is something that is needed, not just on a pilot level but on a full scale level."

A report from the Department of General Services estimated that the pilot would begin in April.

UCLA announced Monday that it will begin supplying free menstrual products in campus restrooms beginning April 4, becoming the first campus in the University of California system to offer the service.

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