CARLSBAD — As the summer hit midseason, the city has been able to unveil several upgraded beach access points.
The City Council approved the improvements last year as part of its citywide goal of enhancing the coastline. Seven access points in Carlsbad Village from Rus Des Chateaux to Oak Avenue are tagged for upgrades, while three have been completed.
In addition, the Carlsbad Fire Department constructed two new lifeguard towers, which have been placed along North Beach, a stretch from Oak Avenue to the Oceanside border.
“We’re very pleased with the end result and the construction came out fantastic,” said Carlsbad Parks and Services Manager Kyle Lancaster. “We’ve had a lot of positive reviews from the public about it.”
The portable lifeguard towers are a much needed addition to the northern coastline, as the council last year said it was a priority after the fire department responded to hundreds of calls over Fourth of July in 2016.
Due to the urgency, the city and fire department were not able to secure towers, so sand towers were constructed for the summer season. The city has also partnered with the Army and Navy Academy to use the school’s lifeguard tower during the summer.
This year, however, the fire department used designs from the Newport Beach Fire Department, according to Cpt. Nate Pearson. The towers are made of wood and are beige in color.
“We’ve seen a similar result as we had last year,” Pearson added. “It’s been very successful in terms of providing water safety down there. We’ve been very happy with our working relationship with the adjacent towers working with the state.”
In 2017, city officials hurried to come up with plans for additional lifeguards for the stretch of beach. According to Carlsbad Fire Chief Mike Calderwood, in July 2016, 335 rescues occurred, no preventative actions were taken and seven nonfatal drownings took place. In 2017, however, 243 rescues were conducted, a 28 percent decrease, with 15,000 preventative actions taken and no drownings reported.
Also, the city incorporated a pilot program for lifeguards.
Pearson said residents and tourists have been overwhelmingly positive in their responses to the towers. The lifeguards are seasonal employees of the city.
“It gives them a better vantage points and higher visibility for the public,” Pearson said. “We went with a classic beach-style wooden frame look to blend with the neighborhood and try to minimize the visual impact. We made some modifications to improve the safety and usability.”
As for the beach entrances, the points at Rus Des Chateaux, Beech Avenue and Carlsbad Village Drive have been completed. The first two were completed before Memorial Day, while the Carlsbad Village Drive entrance was finished before Fourth of July.
The upgrades include new stairways, railings, landings, bike racks, benches, trash bins, lighting and safety features such as crosswalks.
The city will begin construction on the remaining four sites — Cypress, Grand and Oak avenues and Christiansen Way — this fall. The Cypress Avenue point will undergo construction next month; Grand and Oak avenue entrances will begin in September and finish in November; and Christiansen Way work begins in November and ends in December.
“We had several project goals,” Lancaster said of the completed entries. “We felt we hit all of them. We’ve improved the safety and aesthetics and the continuity of the design features. We brought in a lot of the elements from the downtown Village into the beach accesses so you have that cohesive feel now.”
As for costs, the city estimates the beach access improvements will run just more than $3 million. For the lifeguards, the city approved a contract worth $350,000.