Council backs deal on Black's Beach lifeguards

Lifeguard Captain Rick Wurts talks at Monday's press conference. Photo: Dave Schwab
Lifeguard Captain Rick Wurts talks at Monday's press conference. Photo: Dave Schwab

By James R. Riffel

City News Service

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday strongly supported a contract with UC San Diego for the city to resume full-time lifeguard services at Black's Beach, but formal approval won't happen until next week.

The services were reduced last year as part of budget cuts by the deficit-strapped city, with lifeguards on station only during the summer.

Under the contract, UCSD will pay the city $502,000 to resume year-round lifeguard services over the next year, beginning Monday, lifeguard Chief Rick

Wurts said. There is an option for two one-year extensions, he said.

"I really believe because of this, lives will be saved," Wurts said.

He said the closest lifeguards to Black's Beach currently are at La Jolla Shores, with a response time of about eight minutes.

Time is of the essence if someone is struggling in the "strong ocean conditions," he said.

"It's a remote beach that gets a big crowd,'' Wurts said. "It's very popular with surfers.''

He said people also get stuck when they try to descend the cliffs.

The money will pay for the promotion of four seasonal lifeguards to full-time status, according to Wurts. They will go back to hourly employment if

UCSD — which has a lot of students who use the beach — is unable to renew the deal, he said.

Under the terms of the deal, two lifeguards will staff the beach until

mid-June. Six lifeguards will patrol the area during the summer and UCSD's

spring break.

The agreement received strong support on the council.

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, whose district includes the area, helped broker the deal.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf told her colleagues she believes a lifeguard saved her life when she struggled against rough surf as a teenager at Zuma Beach in Malibu in Los Angeles County.

Because the deal requires an amendment to the budget, it has to be taken up by the City Council twice, so no vote was taken. It will be placed on next Monday's agenda for approval.

   
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