OB Town Council Takes on Lifeguard Station and Restrooms

by on October 2, 2009 · 9 comments

in Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

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OB Lifeguard station - built late 1960s.

OCEAN BEACH, CA.  Every now and then, an Ocean Beach organization takes one of the community’s problems head-on.  This is happening with the old OB lifeguard station and its public restroom facilities.  Recently, the OB Rag complained about the state of the restrooms.

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For comparison: Lifeguard station at Pacific Beach.

Stepping up to the problems, the OB Town Council has “adopted” the public building – built sometime in the late Sixties – and plans to shepherd through some improvements with the facility.

I spoke with Jim Musgrove, the OB Town Council president the other day.  He informed me that his Board was taking the lifeguard building under its wing.  He acknowledged that the City of San Diego has no money to completely replace the aging building, even though OB was promised a new one a few years back.

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Men's room, public restrooms at OB lifeguard station.

The Council is working with the City, however, to ensure that it is safe. They have hooked up with the lifeguards, the Park and Rec Department, Councilmember Kevin Faulconer’s office and the OB Mainstreet Association, and together they have been having discussions on the improvements for the last year.

A local architect, Steven Lombardi, has offered his services and is drawing up changes to improve the building and deal with certain safety issues.

“We’ve been told by the city,” Musgrove said, “that there are no new buildings on the horizon.”  So, they’re looking at a number of ideas and improvements, “nothing set in stone,” Jim assured me.  And they include:

  • placing a gate on the lifeguards’ own small parking lot; there have been a couple of close-calls with pedestrians, Jim said; this would also help with the lifeguards egress and ingress to the lot;
  • possibly new landscaping with drought-tolerant vegetation;
  • putting up a mural on the top section of the lifeguard tower;
  • installing mosaic tiles on the building – and OBceans can buy a tile to help with the costs of improvements;
  • new paint job for the building;
  • locking the restrooms themselves – as there have been problems with people sleeping in them.

Most of these ideas sound great.  I told Jim, however, he might have problems with the community agreeing to locking up the restrooms at night. “People use them at all hours,” I said.

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Not too shabby: individual public restroom at Skateboard Park in Robb Field. It even has a fold-down changing table.

“What about seating inside?” I asked Jim.  He wasn’t certain about that as space is narrow.  He did say they’d like to see the restrooms more ADA compliant and accessible.  There’s state and Federal monies for improvements like that.

“What about the showers?”  There’s no changes being discussed for them.

The tower does need to be updated and cleaned up.  “The lifeguards would love to see the upgrades,” Jim added. He wants to avoid, however, what happened about 10 years ago, when a bunch of OB volunteers took it upon themselves and painted the lifeguard station on their own.  “OB style.”

One of the Council Board members, Larry Wasserman, has offered to be the point of contact for these improvements.

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Women's restroom, near PB lifeguard station.

This is great, that the town council has taken this on. At times, it appears that OB consumes itself in beer bashes and musical shindigs, while its infrastructure crumbles and even closes down.  We welcome the OB Town Council stepping up to the problems of our lifeguard station and its public restrooms.

Meanwhile, in our quest for guidance on the issue of the conditions of our public restrooms, we examined briefly the new public restrooms at Robb Field’s Skateboard Park.

Finally, for comparison, we visited the Pacific Beach lifeguard station and the restrooms nearby.  Envious of their newer lifeguard tower, the public restrooms were not a huge upgrade from OB’s. More on all of this later …….

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

bodysurferbob October 2, 2009 at 10:01 am

this is good that the town council is doing this. but do not, repeat, do not lock the restrooms! too many good people use them at all hours. surfers in the early hours, late-night revelers in the wee hours. okay, so homeless take advantage of it. so what? it’s so wet in there all the time, anyhow. it’s not much of an advantage from the elements. oh, another thing: do not lock the restrooms. and by the way, did i say don’t bolt the door to the restrooms?


Mike Copass October 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Thanks OB Rag for another good story.
We need MORE public restrooms in San Diego, not fewer. Additionally, more public showers, inside public restroom areas, not merely outside for sand & rinsing.
Everyone has a right to a bathroom, and a clean place to bathe.

Mike in Clairemont


Larry OB October 2, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Mosaics and murals??? How about something practical like skylights to deal with the perpetual dampness in the South OB restrooms? It was bad design to put the restrooms on the dark side of the building IMHO.

P.S. The building only dates to the early eighties, not the late sixties.


Frank Gormlie October 3, 2009 at 9:06 am

Larry OB – you’re in the minority Larry on this one – the date when the current lifeguard station was built. I’ve been asking around, and for instance,everyone at the OBMA office the other day agreed it was built in the mid to late sixties.


Dave Gilbert October 3, 2009 at 10:40 am

If you check out Gallery 2, pictures 051, 052, 053 & 058 from oceanbeachphotos.com you can see a lifeguard tower that was there in ’68 and ’70 respectively. Not sure if that’s the same building because it does look different.



Frank Gormlie October 3, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Dave, you’re right, if Steve’s memory for the 1970 photos is correct. So, the current lifeguard station was not built in the mid or late Sixties, according to Rossell’s images that show the old station circa 1970.

I’m actually in photo #40 – right front foreground – hey I was all of 20 years old, freshly married and going to UCSD, living on Brighton.


Dave Gilbert October 5, 2009 at 10:44 am

Living on Brighton? That must be where you learned to B Right On ;)

Steve’s photos rock!!!


Danny Morales October 11, 2009 at 5:56 pm

But will the OBTC (or any other civic org) stand up when the issue of condos at the foot of Sara comes up?


TP June 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Didn’t want to leave my full name for safety reasons. I see mega issues with this restroom. The metal toilets need to go. There needs to be fresh tiles placed on the concrete and paint on the walls. Ceramic toilets and sinks should replace the steel with either automatic or lever flush valves. I say this because when you use a public restroom especially when you plan to shower, you want to feel like you’re in a safe, clean, user friendly environment. And this, while it might be safe is the farthest thing from clean and user friendly.


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