“The beach at Law Street and the coastal canyon bluffs are environmentally sensitive and should be preserved as such,” the change.org petition opposing the Law Street Lifeguard Tower states. "This project will likely require further construction to protect it from coastal flooding, due to this poor site choice… We are very concerned that construction plans have been drawn up 'before' proper impact studies have been done... The community needs the opportunity to explore and propose alternative solutions rather than see this proposed command center built.”
Two years ago, overriding some neighbors' objections, Pacific Beach Planning Group voted 12-3-1 in favor of current proposed design plans for a new, 3,500-square-foot lifeguard tower in North Pacific Beach. It is to be built into the coastal canyon at the foot of Law Street.
Those for, and against, the proposal have been debating its merits ever since.
San Diego Lifeguard union chief Ed Harris admits to being biased.
“I am very much in favor,” said Harris, noting, “The beach is crowded and the guards need a station. They are currently working out of a rat-infested storage container.”
Harris added the only drawback with the proposed tower “is the inability and incompetence of city staff. The proposed towers should be state of the art. It should run off wind solar. It should be designed to take advantage of natural lighting and be cooled by opening windows.”
Harris said, “After watching them (city) build four highly-flawed towers, I can tell you this will be another poorly thought-out tower with massive cost overruns and construction flaws.”
Law Street neighbor Micaela Porte disagrees with Harris.
“It is a ridiculous waste of unique and precious public land, and money (started at $4 million, now $7 million-plus) for construction of a massive fire-rescue station on a natural wonder of a site (Law Street canyon and beach),” Porte said.“The frankly corrupt hired guns/city architects who have been working on this design for years, since 2011 when we began our protest, are raising the price of the construction every year, and the design gets bigger and more useless …
"The lifeguards, all six of them, scheduled to occupy this acre of public beach for three months in the summer with improved concrete roads and ramps into the high-tide zone for their oversized trucks, will be responsible for endangering the coastal eco-system, the erosion of coastal cliffs… and limiting public beach access, effectively killing this stretch of beach for the rest of our time … 'Day of the Dead Beach' is what we will have … It is heart-breaking to pave paradise and put up a parking lot," concluded Porte.
Longtime Pacific Beach community activist Chris Olson, said of the Law Street tower: “My personal preference is a simple observation tower set on piers that will allow high tide to pass under it. Generally, I do not support storage or the use of motorized vehicles on the beach, except in the case of emergencies.”
PB activist Paula Gandolfo is most concerned about the environment with the environmental consequences of the tower.
“While we debate if and how to build this station ... I wonder about the short-sightedness of our elected officials to fund a project that may be under water (literally) before the usable service of the facility is received,” Gandolfo said. “The world over, climate change is embraced as science... and the timing is a matter of each of us doing what we can now to de-accelerate the process… It's a dynamic problem that requires the broadest support and collaboration from grassroots, governments and sustainability leaders and active implementation of the CAP by San Diego.”
As for the lifeguards, Gandolfo added, “They need a place to change. A portable office with shower/head and A/C could be an immediate, cost-efficient interim solution for the necessary Emergency Service Providers who work that zone.”