Court clears way for controversial Mission Beach lifeguard tower - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Court clears way for controversial Mission Beach lifeguard tower

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An appellate court ruling Tuesday cleared the way for construction of a new lifeguard tower at South Mission Beach.

The project to replace a 40-year-old wooden structure near the Mission Beach jetty was halted by a December 2015 San Diego Superior Court decision.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal not only will allow construction to go forward, but affirmed the city's interpretation of activities that can satisfy deadlines outlined in construction permits.

The city issued a permit for the tower project in 2006 and the California Coastal Commission gave its blessing the following year. But the city's financial problems at the time, which worsened as the recession took hold, prevented the work from getting funded.

City officials revived the project in 2015 and began some preliminary construction, but a nearby resident who opposed the planned size of the tower filed a lawsuit to stop the project. Judge Katherine Bacal sided with the plaintiff's contention that the permit gave the city three years to build the structure.

The appellate justices, however, ruled that the city took steps to begin the project in a timely manner, such as pursuing funding and the Coastal Commission permit. They also cited a municipal code section that provides for a 90-day window for opponents to file legal challenges to a project.

"This is an important victory because it means better lifeguard coverage on one of our busiest beaches and safer swimming conditions for our residents and visitors," City Attorney Mara Elliott said. "Just as important, it reaffirms earlier rulings that unequivocally support the city's right to move forward with public projects as financing and approvals allow."

The justices returned the case to the Superior Court with instructions to reverse the original ruling. They also awarded appellate fees to the city.

It's not clear when the project will be restarted. The city has a construction moratorium at the beaches between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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