The Solana Beach City Council looked at three possible options at its Nov. 20 meeting to upgrade the Marine Safety Center at Fletcher Cove, which was built in the 1940s.
Council members and personnel from the city’s Marine Safety Department zeroed in on Option A, which they said would best meet lifeguards’ needs, including access to the beach. A city staff reported listed its advantages as maintaining the general location of the existing facility, providing a full view to the park from the observation level, providing public access to and from the park, and being more cost-effective during construction. Unlike the other two options, Option A would be entirely above ground.
“We’ve looked at all the designs obviously, we’ve been involved in the design process,” said Jason Shook, the city’s Marine Safety captain.
The council decided in 2017 to move forward with a new building, on the basis of a report by city staff and consultants that said the current building is “insufficient and functionally obsolete.”
“The footprint of this entire facility has grown by quite a bit due to the technology they use today, the vehicles they use, as well as all the other requirements,” said Jon Dominy, of domusstudio architecture, hired by the city in October 2018.
The Marine Safety Department will continue working with designers and architects hired by the city to develop the proposed plans.
The cost estimate for completing the environmental studies and final design is $450,000, which is included in the capital improvement program section of the city budget, according to city staff. No funding has been allocated for construction yet.
The process began in February, when the city hosted a workshop for residents to give their input. Council members said there will be more community outreach.
City Councilwoman Judy Hegenauer said from an artistic perspective she preferred Option C, which would add more public space, but would likely be the most expensive option and and have bigger construction impacts on the bluff. Mayor David Zito said he preferred Option B for its design, which would have added public space and some improvement to view corridor. He said Option A looked like “a couple of military boxes,” and that it might not appeal to local residents.
“I’m willing to take that beating if that’s what it takes to get the right operational element out of this project,” he said.
All council members said the overriding concern should be the new facility’s ability to meet the needs of the lifeguards.
“I think the input of the lifeguards is the most important operationally,” City Councilwoman Kelly Harless said. “We have to look at what is the safest, as opposed to what is the prettiest.”