North Pacific Beach Lifeguard Tower project - concerns raised by a group of residents:
•Environmentally Sensitive Area - The project will be reviewed by the Development Services Department. The project is located outside the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission but this action is appealable to them; if appealed a permit will be required. DSD will grant a permit if they deem the project appropriate for this location and if the station meets all required criteria.
•Flooding & Oceans Rising - Based upon our knowledge of this area, this will not be a problem for the station. There are many lifeguard stations along the beach in a variety of locations around our county (and the state).
•No Environmental Studies - The environmental review will take place in the near future (as mentioned above).
•No Proven Need - See below
•Grand Ave Station Only .5 Miles - The Crystal Pier is a visual barrier between the North Pacific Beach and Pacific Beach (Grand Avenue) stations. This visual barrier presents a safety challenge. Having a permanent station in North PB (see response below regarding need) is necessary for the safety of beachgoers.
•Misuse of Taxpayer Funds - This project was approved by the City Council because San Diego Fire Rescue demonstrated the need for its existence.
•Negative Community Impact - This station will not obstruct any views to the ocean. The top of the facility will be at the same elevation as the boardwalk. The project will provide enhancements to the boardwalk including a drop-off area for families to drop their belongings off and make their way to the sand and then park the car. This station will also have drought tolerant (natural habitat) vegetation covering 70% of the first floor rooftop which improves the aesthetics of the facility.
•Negative Beach Impact - This station will replace a seasonal station (on a metal stand) that is currently being used as a full time lifeguard station. It will be much more efficient, providing the lifeguards with a support facility they need for accomplishing their mission. It will also be environmentally sensitive while being aesthetically pleasing and will meet all current standards and requirements for a City facility.
•Residential Neighborhood - The facility design, scale and proportions, and materials lend themselves to fit into the community.
•Against Community Plan - The Planning Department approved this project which indicates that it doesn't go against the Community Plan. Additionally, this lifeguard station is in compliance with the Community Plan and Land Development Manual.
•Increase Crime & Homeless - The goal of lifeguard stations is to provide a place from which staff can operate in order to provide safety for all who visit the beach - enhancing their experience.
•Pedestrian & Vehicle Congestion - Currently the lifeguard vehicles assigned to North PB station are stored at the Pacific Beach Station (Grand Ave.) after hours. A new facility at NPB would facilitate needed storage of the lifeguard vehicle assigned to the area. (see rendering which shows garage door under the sign which reads Lifeguard Station). Increased vehicle congestion is not anticipated. The same number of lifeguards that work at the existing temporary station will staff this station. There is no change and therefore congestion is not anticipated.
•Need Congestion Studies - see response below.
•No Employee Parking - This station will not take away any public parking. See also response above regarding pedestrian and vehicle congestion.
•Need Parking Studies - see above response.
•Plumbing & Sewage Issues - The drainage and sewer lines will be built to current City standards for a project at this type of location. Currently, no water or sewer lines to the seasonal station exist.
•Loudspeaker Noise - Again, the ability for lifeguards to communicate with beachgoers is paramount when it comes to safety.
•Lighting Pollution - The lifeguard stations on the beaches are not staffed at night which means there will be no light shining from the station toward the beach. The only spot on any beach in our city which has light shining onto it is at Chalcedony Street and that light comes from a commercial building, not a City facility.
•Scenic Views Obstructed - Because the station will be entirely tucked under the bluff, no views will be obstructed. Much of the station is tucked into the Coastal Canyon in an attempt to make the facility disappear from Law Street and to minimize its footprint on the beach. Only the minimum amount of square footage possible is visible from up above but it is below the maximum height limit and out of the view corridor limits.
•Community Is Against it - The City of San Diego provides police, fire and lifeguard services to protect everyone who lives in and visits our city. Providing safety because of large numbers of visitors to our beaches is the number one reason for building or enhancing lifeguard facilities. While we respect the community's perspective with regard to this station, we are in the business of saving lives and our staff performs these and other valuable functions on a regular basis.
Lifeguards became permanently assigned year round to the North Pacific Beach area in the late 1990's. This, along with an increase in beach attendance, enforcement of beach ordinances, and the ever present potential for drowning and medical aids on the beach, created the need for a permanent lifeguard facility at North PB. Annually, on average over the past 5 years, lifeguards at North PB have had approximately 1,506,000 visitors; performed approximately 121 water rescues; provided 13,400 preventative actions, and tended to an average 254 medical aids.
The most important and impactful function of an ocean lifeguard is to provide water observation. Because of the exceedingly important and sometimes difficult nature of providing water surveillance and drowning prevention, it is necessary that the site be strategically located in order to provide the greatest commanding view for the lifeguard providing the observation and for the best chance of detection and survival of any would-be victim.
A new permanent facility was considered to provide year round staff for the facilities they needed to meet the Lifeguard Division's mission. It was determined that a new facility should be self contained and be able to support the current lifeguard operations at North PB. The North PB station also includes the following assigned rescue equipment, one lifeguard vehicle, and one all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and miscellaneous equipment including: rescue boards, rescue buoys, and first aid equipment. Future projections anticipate the need for one additional utility vehicle (UTV), one personal watercraft (PWC jetski), and the potential for additional lifeguard staff. The best operational practice is to have the vehicles and equipment located at the same operational facility, or in a building in the immediate vicinity of lifeguard operations. Storing vehicles and equipment off site is less efficient, separates personnel from their primary area of responsibility, and could potentially hamper emergency operations.
The current lifeguard staff works out of a temporary, fiberglass, observation tower, and uses a Mobile Mini storage container as a locker-room, a break area, an administrative area, and for rescue equipment storage. Minor first aids are handled in the field but patients requiring additional care, i.e., sting ray wounds, need to be transported to the PB Station for treatment. There is currently no running water or sewer.