New Goal, Fall 2015: Materials, wildlife delay La Jolla’s Children’s Pool lifeguard tower

Issues with materials, design flaws and “unpredictable” wildlife are reasons the Children’s Pool lifeguard tower was not completed on schedule, said Monica Muñoz, senior public information officer for San Diego Public Works.

With little construction done since May 2014, the tower sits in a partially-built state, which is how it will remain until June, after seal pupping season.

Demolished in July 2013, work on the new tower was put on pause for the seal pupping seasons — Dec. 15, 2013 to May 15, 2014 and again Dec. 15, 2014 to May 15, 2015. The original hope was to have the exterior completed between May and December 2014, so interior work could continue through this year’s pupping season. However, a variety of issues caused repeated delays during working months, and now the work is on hold again until the end of the next pupping season.

Muñoz said the small size and shape of the lot prevented the city from establishing a staging area from which to work, and the project was heavily reliant on deliveries. “About a month of construction time went by with no building progress because we didn’t have the rebar necessary,” she said. “When the rebar arrived, some of it was formed incorrectly and needed to be adjusted in the field.”

To avoid further delays when construction resumes, Muñoz said the materials for future work will be ordered in advance during the pupping season construction moratorium.

Other delays stemmed from a discrepancy in the floor elevation that was discovered once crews arrived. The plans represented the finished floor as being two inches lower than intended, requiring a redesign. The contractor will work with designers during the moratorium to resolve any further discrepancies, Muñoz said.

To respect the wildlife, particularly harbor seals and seagulls, certain measures had to be taken that further halted construction.

“When construction operations got too loud and ran the risk of disturbing the pinnipeds (seals), the environmental monitor onsite directed construction activities to stop until it could be known for sure that pinnipeds would not be affected,” Muñoz said. “This happened many times throughout construction.”

After the previous pupping season (December 2013-May 2014), a nesting seagull chick was discovered on site. Per Department of Fish and Game code section 3503, “It is unlawful to take, possess, or needlessly destroy the nest or eggs of any bird ...” so construction on the tower was postponed again until the chick became strong enough to fly away.

“It may be impossible to prevent any nesting birds from entering the job site, but we will try by making periodic site visits during the moratorium,” Muñoz said. “Hopefully, human presence may prevent the seagulls from making a nest.”

At the Jan. 5 La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting, Justin Garver, representing City Council president Sherri Lightner’s office, said the project was not granted a waiver to work through the pupping season and therefore work would resume after the pupping season. He said the project is expected to be complete this fall, prior to the next pupping season.

About the Children’s Pool Lifeguard Station

■ Estimated Cost: $3.25 million

■ Project Designers: KMA Architecture and Engineering

■ Tower Features: Graffiti-resistant, composite panels for the stairwell tower; anodized aluminum railings and window framing; fiber-cement siding with the appearance of redwood; precast concrete and polished concrete block; a Bermuda roof atop the observation tower; and energy-efficient, reflective roofing for the rest of the structure

■ Construction Start Date: September 2013

■ Construction End Date: Fall 2015