San Diego

La Jolla Children's Lifeguard Tower Greatly Exceeded Budget

Costs to rebuild the La Jolla Children’s lifeguard station were nearly $2 million over the projected budget, according to a published audit report by the San Diego Office of the City Auditor (OCA).

The total cost of the construction project was $4.3 million over the course of three years, and the original budget was $2.7 million, according to the OCA report. After city fees, the total amount the project was authorized to spend was $3.6 million.

When one San Diegan was asked whether she thought the cost of the tower construction was reasonable, she said she thought it was excessive because she would have estimated $2 million as the total cost.

"Things better be nicer than this," said Jordan Trautmann, a resident of La Jolla. "I mean, that’s what, almost double?"

She later joked, "Is the toilet paper gonna be gold? That’d be cool. I’d come here every day."

OCA was asked to determine whether the considerable budget overage and construction delays of the tower were reasonable.

The audit determined the two top reasons for budget overages were special design requests and upgrades that were made mid-construction. This also delayed the construction completion, according to the report.

Environmental considerations due to seal pups and migratory bird nesting also contributed to delays. The construction was only allowed six and a half months out of the year due to seal pup season.

Plumbing and sewer problems, as well as rust accumulation on the building exterior, which required post-construction upgrades, were also a factor.

Overall, however, OCA said the construction time was reasonable when considering the design changes that were made during construction.

OCA recommended designers take into account the harsh environments, material appropriate for marine environments and impacts of regulations in the area before projecting a project’s cost and schedule.

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