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Mission Beach Neighbors Voice Concerns Over New Lifeguard Tower

Property owners near South Mission Beach are pushing back against a 30-foot-tall lifeguard tower that's been planned for more than a decade.

U-T San Diego reports construction recently started at the site, and residents are saying the city didn't give them proper notice or a chance to weigh in on the project.

The new tower was proposed in 2002 at a cost of about $1.1 million, but that price has jumped to about $5 million due to funding and erosion-control problems. Lifeguards have been using a three-story, 900-square-foot temporary building for 40 years.

The replacement facility is almost 4,000 square feet, and will include a first-aid station, rescue vehicle bay and administrative quarters.

Residents like Ken Giavara said they'll pursue legal action.

"If they are going to force the residents down here to take this to the courts to get a stop-work order, then we will," he said. "If the city wants to waste more of their private citizens' time, health and money on this illegal project, that's up to them."

His lawyer, Leslie Devaney, said private developers wouldn't get this same lax treatment.

"The city needs to take this project back through the transparent public route so that the public can weigh in," she said. "It is way too stale and way too secret."

Chandler resident and South Mission Beach property owner Deneen Nielson said the new facility goes "overboard."

"It was a shock to us," Nielson said. "We got one letter in January 2015 from the city of San Diego."

City officials said a smaller construction design was approved in 2007, and the facility currently under construction is slightly bigger than that. Residents say they didn't get a chance to speak out against a larger design.

The Coastal Commission approved the new design, determining it was essentially the same as the first, and a construction permit was issued last month.

Lifeguards will be using the old tower until the new one is finished next summer.

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