Moss Street Beach is a step closer to getting a permanent lifeguard tower after receiving a green light from the Laguna Beach Planning Commission on Wednesday.
A new design plan proposes the replacement of the stairs and sidewalk, and the inclusion of a ramp, bicycle racks, and an enclosed permanent lifeguard tower. The City Council has already earmarked the necessary funds in the City’s budget.
The item has been slated for Planning Commission review twice but was extended both times to gather feedback from residents on the proposed tower, said project manager Matthew Oxford.
The rocky tide pools at Moss Street Cove are popular among photographers and snorkelers, but Marine Safety Chief Kevin Snow said the unpredictable high tides of the cove can prove dangerous for inexperienced swimmers.
Marine Safety staff responded to 176 medical aids in the last five years to Moss Street Cove, and the number is expected to increase in the coming years with the projected higher number of beachgoers citywide, Oxford said.
“It is a smaller beach, but for its size, it is well visited,” Snow said.
Snow added that a permanent enclosed tower would allow lifeguards to monitor the beach while protecting them from exposure to the sun and other elements.
Marine Safety supervisors identified an enclosed tower d as a top priority for the department in the City Council’s Strategic Planning Session on March 4.
In July 2020, an unusually high tide eroded over 32 inches of sand, leading to a gap between the bottom stair and sand at Moss Beach. The City installed a temporary wooden staircase for safety, but revamping the entire staircase is among the improvements that garnered near-unanimous support.
The permanent lifeguard tower remained an area of concern among some residents and commissioners.
“We did vet alternatives. That includes alternatives to the fiberglass tower model that was selected. It was critically important to the City to move forward with an enclosed tower design… of those options, this was found to be most minimally obtrusive,” Senior Planner Anthony Viera said.
There is no other location suitable to place a tower given the frequent high tides and unpredictable waves at the cove, Snow said.
“It’s a balancing act. I understand the neighbors’ concerns, but I also feel that our professional staff – if this is something that they feel will improve public safety and longevity and the safety of the occupant – I’m ready to lean towards that,” Dubin said.
Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the improvements, with Kellenberg dissenting.
“It is a beautiful, quaint, small human-scale beach of unusual beauty and we have a lot of beautiful beaches. And it’s just hard to accept the character of that structure of that scale in that space,” Kellenberg said.
In the coming weeks, the Moss Street Beach upgrades will move onto City Council for final approval.View Our User Comment Policy