Coastal Commission OKs buoys off La Jolla as a ‘public safety measure’

Buoys will be placed at sea off La Jolla following approval from the California Coastal Commission.

Nine seasonal markers and a permanent one will be used to help separate swimmers from boaters and kayakers to prevent collisions.


Nine seasonal buoys and one permanent one will soon be coming to the waters off La Jolla to help define public swimming areas following a vote of the California Coastal Commission this week.

The proposal came from San Diego lifeguards and was approved as part of the commission’s consent agenda during its April 12 meeting, meaning there was no presentation or discussion.

According to a staff report, “the buoys are a public safety measure to separate the designated swim areas from the area used by boats and kayaks during the time when the number of swimmers in the water is the highest and thus the chances are highest for collisions between swimmers and boaters.”

The buoys will be in the sea between La Jolla Shores, in front of the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, and La Jolla Cove. The seasonal ones will be in place from April 1 to Oct. 31 annually.

All the buoys will be anchored by steel chains connected to a pyramid-shaped cast-iron anchor, according to the staff report.

A map shows the planned locations of buoys off La Jolla's coast.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

After the vote, lifeguard division chief James Gartland told the La Jolla Light that the new buoys should be in place within 30 days, depending on ocean conditions.

The Coastal Commission added a condition requiring signs so the buoys won’t create the impression that there are private waters in front of the Beach & Tennis Club.

“While La Jolla Cove beach and its proposed buoys are surrounded by public parkland, the proposed seasonal buoys at the east end of The Cove are next to the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club and could create the appearance of exclusivity if the public believes [the] swim area is for resort users only,” the staff report states.

Thus, the signs will inform users that they can access those waters.

Further, the Coastal Commission determined that the impact of the buoys on the Marine Protected Area off La Jolla Cove would be low.

“Because the 10 proposed buoys will be anchored to the sea floor, there is the potential that the anchors could disturb benthic [sea bottom] habitat,” the report states. “However, the city submitted information showing that the location of the buoys will be over areas consisting substantially of unconsolidated sediment and mixed rock and sand … and the risk of adverse impacts to the habitat of the marine reserve area is low.” ◆