New Shores board hears lifeguard woes
Besides seating new members and officers, La Jolla Shores Association board members last week were clued in on the latest news from 1st District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner and from lifeguards claiming that Black’s Beach staffing cuts threaten public safety.
Joe Dicks took over for Jim Heaton as chairman of the advisory group. Heaton and two other termed-out directors, John Metzger and Mary Coakley, received certificates of appreciation from Lightner, who is a past LJSA member and chairwoman.
Other new LJSA officers are: Ed Furtek, vice chairman; Todd Lesser, corresponding secretary; Pat Nissan, recording secretary; and Ruth Padgett, treasurer. Newly elected board members are Barry Graceman, Max Ladjevardi, Pamela Boynton and Debra Rappaport Rosen.
San Diego Lifeguard Ed Harris, who attended as a representative of the Teamsters Union, told the group that city budget cuts are already impacting Shores’ beaches.
“They’ve stopped guarding Black’s Beach as of Jan. 1,” he said. “And in the last 12 days, there were two major calls: a cliff rescue and a surfer drug out of the water in critical condition. Two calls in 12 days in this, the slowest time of the year, shows the difficulties presented.”
Harris said lifeguards fear that not having lifeguards posted on the beach at Black’s will lead to the further stretching of already-thin personnel and other resources. “It could turn into the Wild West,” he warned. “We are preparing for a tragedy.”
Harris reiterated the lifeguards’ contention that not guarding Black’s will draw away remaining Shores personnel to respond to emergencies during the peak summer season, which will leave the popular Shores beach vulnerable.
Reacting to claims that the cuts will inevitably lead to more tragic incidents, Maurice Luque, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman, said: “The fact is lots of sections of the beach are unguarded. Accidents happen, and we have incidents with lifeguards on duty. It’s just a disservice to sensationalize a (particular) incident saying it wouldn’t have happened if there were a lifeguard there — that’s speculative.”
Lightner also expressed concern about the consequences of lifeguard cutbacks at Black’s Beach.
“We’re going to work aggressively to find outside funds for that,” she said.
Turning to other beach-related issues, the councilwoman said the Shores and more than 180 other coastal fire pits marked for termination in city budget cuts can’t be saved individually, only collectively — and time is running out.
“The deadline is April 15,” she said of raising the money needed to put them in next year’s budget — now about $120,000. She encouraged people to participate in an online fundraising campaign to save the fire pits. For more information, go to www.sandiego.gov and search for fire pits.
Also during the meeting, Shores resident Betty Morrison noted that a dangerous traffic situation exists in the 2100 block of Avenida de La Playa in the alley behind Piatti’s restaurant.
“It’s a fire lane with no parking at any time used by delivery trucks going back and forth, and people living there in 14 apartments with garages can’t get into their own homes,” she said, suggesting that it could be made safer — and more accessible — by having the alley designated one-way.
Chairman Dicks told Morrison that she’d need to do two things: petition neighbors in the area for support and have the issue placed on the agenda of the La Jolla Traffic and Transportation Board, which hears matters relating to street changes.