'Glaring' problem with new $3.8 million lifeguard tower - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

'Glaring' problem with new $3.8 million lifeguard tower at La Jolla Shores

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LA JOLLA (CBS 8) - A new state-of-the-art lifeguard tower at La Jolla Shores has a 'glaring' issue that could potentially compromise safety, and is now costing lifeguards more out of their budget.

According to lifeguards and city officials, the views from within the $3.8 million tower are often distorted during the early afternoon, apparently by the positioning of the tinted windows on each side of the upper observation booth as the sun comes streaming in.

"At certain times of the day, in the afternoon with the reflection, you start to get dual images," said James Nagelvoort, deputy director for the City of San Diego's Capital Improvements Program.

The effect of this reflective glare at times create images on the beach that aren't there, and obscures what really is there.

"Those images are being projected or reflected, and you're seeing a sort of 'ghost' appearance of that in front of you," Nagelvoort said, "and of course if your job is life and safety as a lifeguard, you don't want to see that. You want to see a clear image of what's in front of you to effectively do your job."

To ensure beachgoers' safety, lifeguards at La Jolla Shores are "doubling up" during those hours when the glare is at its worst, by also staffing a temporary tower nearby that's usually only used during busy summer months.

"We're calling in a seasonal lifeguard for three hours a day at the point when the glare becomes an issue," said Lt. Nick Lerma of San Diego Lifeguards.

"It increases their operating costs," Nagelvoort added. "We were supposed to... get them a facility up and running, and that's what they're expecting from us."

In the meantime, the city is hiring an outside expert in window glazing issues to assess the situation and recommend a fix.

City officials say they are also in close contact with the tower's architect, contractor, and the windows' manufacturer to try to get to the bottom of this problem.

"We're working with all three of those players, and saying, you know, we paid good money," Nagelvoort said. "This was obviously not the intent of the project, of course, and we're looking to them to come together and find a solution."

City officials also say they believe the city should not have to foot the bill for fixing this problem. They are waiting for the study to be completed, in late February or early March, to determine exactly what needs to be done and who should pay for it. They also say they expect this problem to be resolved before the busy summer season begins.

Some of the footage in this video report was shot using a GoPro camera.

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