ENCINITAS — The San Elijo State Beach lifeguard tower that has stood on the Encinitas coastline for decades was finally torn down after having recently been condemned.
After several delays due to high winds, construction crews began dismantling the tower March 11.
A local landmark, the lifeguard tower teetered dangerously close to the edge of the bluff in Encinitas, due in part to years of erosion and extra damage from the recent winter storms.
“If you go to Google Earth, go back to 1990 and you can see the erosion slowly hitting the cliff,” said Richard MacManus, a board member with the nonprofit group Friends of Cardiff and Carlsbad State Beaches, or FCCSB.
The construction crew first removed the wooden observation area, which will be put in place on a temporary structure nearby. As they demolished the rest of the brick building in increments, pictures left behind by Encinitas’ lifeguards could still be seen inside.
The winter storms took a serious total on North County’s beaches and coastal parks, causing more than $2 million in damages, said Brian Ketterer, north district superintendent for California State Parks, or CSP. “We got wrecked,” he said.
Along with further impacting the lifeguard tower, the winter storms also destroyed several campgrounds at San Elijo, MacManus said. These spots were some of the most desirable on the lot, as they offered a prime location right by the beach. Many families were regretfully informed that their summer plans had to be canceled, Ketterer said.
Due to statewide budget cuts, the park has but a fraction of the repair costs available to get the park back in total working order. As they struggle to meet the budget deficit and improve the park for the estimated 13 million annual visitors to the north sector, the parks will be looking to outside groups like the FCCSB for help, Ketterer said.