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La Jolla Shores board updated on Lifeguard Department changes

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San Diego Lifeguard Chief James Gartland addresses the La Jolla Shores Association board during its Oct. 9 meeting.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Changes are afoot in the San Diego Lifeguard Services Department, and Division Chief James Gartland was on hand to discuss them at the Oct. 9 La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) meeting.

“We have a big shift underway,” Gartland told the board. “Rich Stropky has left Northern Division and is now at the Central Division. But, you have Maureen Hodges, who is a trailblazer and a fantastic lieutenant (stepping in as Marine Safety Lieutenant).”

Gartland also said two new sergeants would be reporting for duty at La Jolla Shores, one of whom, Kristen Rich Yashu, will be the future liaison for LJSA meetings. As he introduced her, Gartland said: “I had the privilege to personally promote her, she is new to the La Jolla supervisory staff and will be here for quite a long time. She came to us from the State lifeguards and was on the cover of Lifeguard magazine not too long ago.”

After an embarrassed chuckle, Yashu said: “I spent my time as a seasonal lifeguard here in La Jolla Shores, so this is a bit of a homecoming for me. We are beginning to taper down to winter-time staffing, so I have a whole new crew with me and we’re looking forward to serving the area.”

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Division-wide, she said activity had been slow, but La Jolla beaches have been “busy” and “pretty action packed on weekends.” She cautioned that in areas such as Windansea and The Cove: “Those rips are still cranking and the reefs are still catching these swells.”

Gartland added that though “rescue counts are down,” it may be due to a new electronic filing system the department is using: “In the transition, we lost a lot of statistics as far as rescue counts, plus, summer didn’t really start until the second week of September, due to weather. We had about 2,600 rescues across the department, a lot of them were preventative acts.”

He explained with the new electronic system, the department will be able to track stingray stings, and should there be an influx to which the public should be aware, the department will post updates on social media.

LJSA trustee Mary Coakley-Munk asked if there was any progress in mitigating beach fires built outside of City fire rings. The board has recently taken up the issue of fires built and burned in the sand, a concern because the subsequent hot coals are often buried, and can remain hot for hours, unknown to those who visit the beach the next day.

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Gartland noted the Department of Park & Rec manages the fire rings, but opined that “when it comes to enforcement, if we see people walking to the beach with pallets (which are not allowed to be burned because of paint or nails), we shut it down. We try to ensure they are burning clean wood. … Our staff is trained to look for coals on the sand. We’re trained to mitigate that.”

Also at LJSA

Homeless update: Following a report of a homeless encampment at La Jolla Shores beach, Police Community Relations Officer Larry Hesselgesser talked about the Neighborhood Policing Division (NPD) and the fact that Northern Division now has its own branch.

He said there are two police components working together — the homeless outreach team, which connects those in need with services, and the side that processes the criminal element, such as those using drugs or alcohol and committing crimes.

Hesselgesser said: “If you were to e-mail me with an encampment issue, I can get it to the team and they can go out and see if these people need to be moved on or arrested.” Hesselgesser can be reached at: lhesselgesse@pd.sandiego.gov

Honoring Walter Munk: Given that LJSA celebrated oceanographer Walter Munk’s 101st birthday during its October 2018 meeting, the board opted to honor him posthumously during its October 2019 meeting, with cake and Champagne at a pre-meeting reception. Munk died in his La Jolla Shores home on Feb. 8.

There are a week’s worth of events honoring Munk: a symposium celebrating his scientific legacy 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16 at Birch Aquarium, 2300 Expedition Way; then a paddle-out to honor his life will be held 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 8622 Kennel Way (Pawka Green).

The event starts with refreshments and speakers and ends with lunch. There may be changes due to surf or weather conditions. Updates will be posted on Eventbrite and Facebook facebook.com/waltermunkfoundation For a full list of events, visit waltermunkfoundation.org

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UCSD project to break ground: Anu Delouri, UC San Diego assistant director of community planning, explained the Franklin Antonio Hall project will start construction later this year.

The free-standing building will feature 200,000 square feet of laboratories, classrooms, faculty offices, meeting space, an auditorium and café as part of the Jacobs School of Engineering. The building will be designed to foster collaborations between various fields of research via shared laboratories and work areas. Construction is expected to be complete in 2021.

Bench blockades: As part of its ongoing effort to teach those who park in the Kellogg Park lot after hours a lesson, LJSA is considering benches to trap cars in the lot. The gates are closed at 10 p.m., and those who get trapped in the lot have resorted to driving onto the grass as a means of escape.

The board is considering lining the edges of the park — where it meets the parking lot — with alternating benches and rocks so cars do not have enough space to drive on the grass.

After a brief discussion, the board decided to present its proposal to the Department of Park & Rec for feedback and cost estimates. The idea of the blockade being, LJSA chair Janie Emerson explained: “Once drivers get stuck once, they aren’t going to do it again, and they will tell others not to do it.”

La Jolla Shores Association next meets, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Martin Johnson House on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus, 8840 Biological Way. The board will not meet in December. lajollashoresassociation.org


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