Revised city budget funds full-time lifeguard at WindanSea Beach in La Jolla

The historic WindanSea shack is one of several spots from which lifeguards survey the beach and shoreline at WindanSea Beach.
The historic WindanSea shack is one of several spots from which lifeguards survey the beach and shoreline at WindanSea Beach.
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The new full-time lifeguard for WindanSea Beach (shown here) will supervise a staff of lifeguards during peak season and work with the boating safety unit in winter. Pat Sherman

By Pat Sherman

District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lighter is praising revisions to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s nearly $3 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year. These include $50,000 for microbial foam treatments to reduce the odor from bird and marine mammal excrement at La Jolla Cove (as needed),  and the restoration of a permanent, full-time lifeguard at WindanSea Beach.

“This is the best budget I’ve seen since I took office,” Lightner said. “We were thrilled to see funding for a WindanSea lifeguard and the Cove odor cleanup in the mayor’s May revise.”

Lightner requested the full-time lifeguard for WindanSea, which the city cut from its budget five years ago. The mayor’s revised budget allocates $115,395 for the position, to be funded from an excess of nearly $122,000 the city allocated for seasonal lifeguards in the coming fiscal year that San Diego Lifeguard Services Chief Rick Wurts said he does not need.

At present, only hourly, seasonal lifeguards are used to staff WindanSea Beach. The new, full-time lifeguard will begin July 1 and be a permanent addition. During summer, he or she will work  four 10-hour days per week at WindanSea (most likely Thursdays through Sundays), and an additional two days with the lifeguard’s boating safety unit at Mission Bay (which also services the La Jolla coast).

From October to March, the full-time guard will work exclusively with the boating safety unit — which also assists with cliff rescues — then return to WindanSea Fridays and Saturdays during spring break.

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The historic WindanSea shack is one of several spots from which lifeguards survey the beach and shoreline at WindanSea Beach.

From 9 a.m. to sunset mid-June to Labor Day (peak summer season), three seasonal guards will continue monitoring WindanSea on weekdays, and four seasonal guards will be there Saturday and Sunday — in addition to the full-time guard’s 40 hours.

District 2 City Councilmember Ed Harris, the former head of San Diego’s lifeguard union, said the full-time guard will oversee seasonal guards working from WindanSea north to the beach at Marine Street.

While most seasonal lifeguards have only a basic level of medical training, and can only issue basic warnings, full-time guards can issue citations and are certified as emergency medical technicians.

Harris said there are typically more crucial rescues at WindanSea, such as those involving  neck and back injuries, which full-time lifeguards are better prepared to respond to. “We’ve always maintained that we needed a permanent lifeguard there,” Harris said.

During summer, La Jolla’s beaches are staffed by 30 seasonal and eight full-time lifeguards (including the new position), as well as two supervisors, Wurts said. Half patrol from La Jolla Shores to Black’s Beach, and the other half patrol the rocky beaches from WindanSea to La Jolla Cove (40 guards monitor La Jolla’s beaches on Saturdays in summer).

Additional funding

Lightner said she was also happy to see the mayor allocate money for brush management and a police helicopter from the additional $12 million he added to the city’s 2015 budget last week.

Items Lightner said she would still like to see added to the budget include two more workers to oversee compliance with the city’s living wage ordinance; a plan to address a proliferation of marine mammals along La Jolla’s coastline; and more money for tree trimming and acquiring library materials.

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