Seal Beach staff to re-evaluate options for Lifeguard Headquarters building

Seal Beach Marine Safety Department Headquarters.

Sixth in a series about the city’s plans.

City staff will re-evaluate options for remodeling Seal Beach Lifeguard Headquarters before recommending rebuild options.

That was City Manager Jill Ingram’s recommendation during the March 31 strategic planning session and the City Council unanimously agreed with her recommendation.

The lifeguard headquarters needs work, as the Sun reported in October 2020. (For more information, see “Seal Beach officials looking at renovation or reconstruction of Lifeguard Headquarters,” at

At that time, city officials were looking at either replacing or repairing the building.

Whatever the city does, the project would have to be approved by the California Coastal Commission.

A new building could cost as much as $9.5 million, according to Public Works Director Steve Myrter during the March 2021 workshop.

(Multiple documents confirm the figure: In October 2020, a slide presentation by Myrter and a “conceptual cost estimate” by Griffin Structures both put the cost estimate at $9.5 million. Page 227 of the approved 2019-2020 city budget also put the replacement at $9.5 million. If you download the PDF file for that budget, go to page 232.)

Meanwhile, the city has many projects to consider.

Finance Director/Treasurer Kelly Telford said, “We just don’t have the money to do all of those projects.”

She said it was important to prioritize the projects.

“We just resolved the issue of structural deficits a few years ago,” Telford said.

“We don’t want to put ourselves back in that situation,” Telford said.

The lifeguard headquarters is located in District One, which is represented by Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick.

During the March 31, 2021 planning workshop, Kalmick said he would love to see a new headquarters with new amenities and ADA access, but he didn’t see how the city could afford the project.

He asked what could be done to bring the building up to some sort of appropriate standard.

District Five Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt said, “I’m kind of torn with this one.”

She said she would like to see a new Lifeguard headquarters, but the budget only has so much money.

District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic asked if the recent repairs (performed a couple of years ago) did any good.

Myrter said the city had to do a major repair at the headquarters because of mold.

He said at the time of the repair work he was told that the new water-resistant coating would last five years.

“The building has evolved over time,” Myrter said.

Myrter also said the city doesn’t know how the foundation was built.

“If we can make the renovation option work, it comes in around $3.5 million,” Myrter said. “But there’s a lot of assumptions there.”

He also said there was no Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

Myrter also pointed out that once you do a 50% remodel on a building, you have to meet existing codes.

He said the city would have to do a major renovation of the headquarters to make it functional for the Marine Safety Department.

District Three Councilman Mike Varipapa said, ideally, a rebuild is great.

However, Varipapa  said he thought it was important to follow the recommendation to re-evaluate the renovation as that might cost as much as a rebuild.

Varipapa asked how long the re-evaluation would take.

“We can do that within six months for sure,” Myrter said.

“I think six months is fin to find out how bad or good a shape we’re in,” Varipapa said.

Kalmick asked if it was likely that the city could rebuild the garage in a way that would buy the city time.

Myrter said the garage did not have adequate locker space for the Marine Safety Department. He said it was not envisioned for a co-ed staff.