Council nixes appeal on Shores lifeguard station


Shores tower clears hurdle

La Jolla Shores’ new lifeguard station could be completed in 2010 now that the City Council has unanimously denied an appeal over the project’s environmental impacts.

“We’re very excited the council approved the project by denying the appeal,” said Rick Espana of Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects, the firm designing the new 1,485-square-foot lifeguard station.

But late last week, La Jolla architect Phil Merten, who is among the opponents, said the council decision will likely be appealed to the California Coastal Commission.

If that doesn’t cause delays, design work could be completed by spring 2009, with the nine-month construction period starting in the fall, Espana said. No work can be done during the summer months because the city, for more than five years, has had a construction moratorium on beach projects due to large crowds and traffic congestion.

Opponents of the long-delayed lifeguard station appealed the project, saying that its detrimental effects were not being mitigated. They have argued it would block ocean views, present a public safety threat, remove invaluable parking and not blend with surrounding architecture.

Councilman Jim Madaffer said lifeguard station opponents failed to make their case because they didn’t address environmental issues. “I’m sitting here for an environmental appeal and I didn’t hear anything to do with an environmental appeal.”

On drawing board

The project calls for demolishing the existing 850-square-foot station and constructing a two separate buildings connected by a breezeway with a 30-foot observation tower cantilevered out over the boardwalk.

A detached 650-square-foot, single-story, rescue vehicle and emergency equipment facility within the existing parking lot would also be built.

The old station would not be razed until the new one is completed.

Jihad Sleiman, the city’s project manager for the tower, put the cost for the entire project at $1.5 million. Besides the demolition and new structures, the estimate covers parking lot improvements and creation of disabled parking, he added.

Local opposition

Opponents took particular exception to separating the vehicle storage shed from the main building and placing it in the parking lot.

During the hearing, Merten suggested a way to alleviate some of the concerns.

“If that (parking) garage were to go away, those vehicles currently stored in the parking lot could be stored at La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club without the loss of a single parking space,” Merten said.

He also said designs calling for a flat roof would constitute an “attractive nuisance” with nothing “to prevent people from getting on, or falling off, the roofs,” thus creating a financial liability for the city.

Shores resident Mary Coakley contended that “the lifeguard tower won’t blend with the restrooms or other structures in the park or along the shoreline that have red-tile roofing.”

Behind the plan

Addressing opponents’ concerns following the meeting, architect Espana said the project is designed to blend in with nearby cliffs and a variety of community architectural styles. He said roofs aren’t designed to be flat or Mission-style because such roofs tend to be “a lot higher and block views.”

He added that planters would be located at strategic points around the building to prevent people from accessing the roof from vehicles and wall detailing “will be such that people cannot climb.”

Rendering shows design that drew appeal.