LJ Shores tower ready for rescue
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 07/27/11 - 03:17 PM | 4389 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner addresses the crowd at the reopening of the Scripps  lifeguard tower on July 21. Photo by Mariko Lamb
District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner addresses the crowd at the reopening of the Scripps lifeguard tower on July 21. Photo by Mariko Lamb
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District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, departing UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and San Diego Lifeguard Services Chief Rick Wurts announced the reopening of the renovated Scripps Institution of Oceanography lifeguard tower at La Jolla Shores on July 21.

The 45-year-old lifeguard tower had deteriorated over the years, weathering into a shack with poor visibility, insufficient ventilation and little storage space.

Behind the efforts of Safdie Rabines Architects and Sundt Construction, the tower has been refurbished with new tinted, glare-resistant glass for a panoramic view of the beach, an improved public- address system and increased storage space for supplies.

UC San Diego’s signature green efforts led to the inclusion of several energy-efficient features on the project, including the use of recycled materials for the decking and beams, low-energy lighting and solar panels to heat water for medical services such as stingray wounds.

“This beautiful lifeguard tower is proof of what we can do when we work together with a shared vision,” said Lightner. “This lifeguard tower is not just about aesthetics. It is about improving safety at our beaches.”

The renovation of the lifeguard tower is just one of the projects that Lightner has touted to improve the safety of La Jolla’s beaches.

“I successfully fought to restore funding in this year’s city budget for lifeguard training and increased lifeguard staffing for all of our beaches this summer and into the future,” she said.

The councilwoman and chancellor not only share a passion for keeping La Jolla beaches safe. The women also share previous job experience as lifeguards in high school.

“I learned in those days that it is important to guarantee the safety of those who are enjoying the water and to celebrate those who are willing to devote their time and effort to that activity,” said Fox. “The goal of this refurbishment has been to improve public safety for the general community and our university community.”

That community, meanwhile, is already reaping the benefits of the tower’s overhaul.

For several weeks, city lifeguards have been utilizing the facility and its new features. They have already made dozens of water rescues, medical assists and enforcement measures.

“It really makes a difference in saving people’s lives,” said Wurts. “It all starts with water observation for us — our ability to look out and see a dangerous situation developing and to go down for intervention, warning or rescue. Water observation for lifeguards is the very cornerstone of what we do. It starts right there in that tower.”

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography lifeguard tower watches over and serves the area from Scripps beach in the south to just north of the Scripps Pier. This area, Wurts said, has been the busiest stretch of beach in San Diego this summer.

In June and July alone this year, 96 rescues have already been made in the area.
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