Glass ‘fix’ to begin May 27 on La Jolla Shores lifeguard tower

By Ashley Mackin

During the May 14 La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) meeting, San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Rich Stropky and City of San Diego Civil Engineer Elif Cetin presented a plan to quickly fix the glare and distortion issues found at the new $3.8 million Shores lifeguard tower.

During certain times of day, during certain months, the angle of the glass and the type of glass used on the structure lead to “ghost images” of people appearing to be on one side of the beach when they are actually at another, and glare inhibits the guards’ ability to see.

Cetin also requested a waiver to the summer construction moratorium be granted so repairs could take place immediately.

She told LJSA board members the city hired a contractor independent of the one hired to do the original work, who recommended the glass be replaced and re-angled. If construction starts on the proposed May 27 date, after Memorial Day weekend, contractors say they are confident the work can be finished by the end of June.

During troublesome times, lifeguards could rely on “redundant coverage,” where guards at the nearby towers, mainly Tower 32, would also observe the beach and water, and cross check what lifeguards at the main tower see. Lifeguards will raise the height of Tower 32 to improve visibility to ensure the beach is thoroughly monitored during the Shores tower repair project.

Fixing the glass issues involves installing a steel plate that will frame the new glass panels without obstructing the view. Once the plate is installed, another set of measurements will be taken and the panels will be fitted to those measurements.

Cetin said a glass specialist sub-contractor would work with the contractors, under the observation of third-party inspectors and resident engineers.

She also reported there would be some “down time,” when crews would not be present at The Shores, such as when glass is being ordered.

Asked why crews couldn’t start demolition right away and rely solely on Tower 32 for the Memorial Day weekend, Stropky said, “We need time to prepare an operations plan ... We’ve talked about this for several months and it’s something we all agree needs to be done as soon as possible because it has to do with public safety.”

Some board members expressed concern about whether the beach would be safe under the said operations plan.

To alleviate their concerns, member Mary Coakley-Munk made a motion that LJSA approve an exception to the summer moratorium on the condition the lifeguards endorse or create a safety plan and inform the LJSA chair of it by May 23.

The motion passed. Stropky said he was confident a plan could be drafted and endorsed by the deadline.

Further, board member Janie Emerson expressed doubt the project would be complete in June, and made a second motion to alleviate her concerns.

“Construction never happens on time, anyone that has ever done remodeling knows that, and you’re giving us an optimal schedule. I would bet, given the history of this project you will not be in before the Fourth of July, which just stretches (construction) out even more into the summer,” she said. She noted that ideally the project should start after Labor Day, when the summer construction moratorium ends, but made a motion that if the city determines the project will not be done by the end of June, they not proceed with work and start construction after Labor Day. The motion passed.

– La Jolla Shores Association next meets 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 11 at 8840 Biological Grade at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.