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Shores board addresses changes to surf camp rules

To better meet the needs of those who want surf instruction in La Jolla Shores but who work a 9-to-5 schedule, San Diego Lifeguards are proposing a time change to the operating hours for surf camps, to be implemented on a 60-day trial period.

This was addressed and voted on at the July 8 La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) meeting, where lifeguard Lt. Rich Stropky said the surf camps that operate under a Request for Proposal (RFP) contract are interested in offering operating hours beyond what is already allowed.

Lt. Rich Stropky
Lt. Rich Stropky

The RFP contract is between the city and surf instruction concessionaires (or camps) and allows the instructors to conduct business on city property, in accordance with safety standards set by the city. The current surf camp RFP states that the maximum land-based hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and that in-water instruction is permitted 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“What we’ve found in La Jolla Shores and other areas is that there are some surf camps that are interested in providing another service for people who cannot participate in that 9-to-4 window. When these people get off work, they would love to have some surf instruction ... but they can’t because of the time restrictions,” Stropky said.

The proposed extension would allow in- water instruction until 5:30 p.m. and beach use until 6 p.m. for private lessons only one to five students per concessionaire. Concessionaires could not “lend” any of their students to another concessionaire. “We’ve worked with the surf camps and looked at the impact from a lifeguard perspective and found there are no safety issues that come with the proposed extension,” Stropky said.

The four surf camp sites operating under a RFP are located along the beach north of Kellogg Park. The location was a factor when considering overall impact, Stropky said, especially to local surfers who appreciate the student-free time. “The local surfers are often further north than where these camps are located,” Stropky said. “And if all four concessionaires utilize the full extent of what is allowed, that’s 20 surfers at most. I’m not even sure how often that would take place.”

Should the extension prove successful, it might be recreated in other surf communities that use a RFP, he said. With the intent of changing the closing time going forward, Stropky said the hours would apply from March to September, and always concurrent to when lifeguards are on duty. However, beachgoers are encouraged to use the 60-day trial period to identify issues that could be corrected or addressed for something more long-term.

A motion to support the extension passed 8-1-2, on the condition Stropky return to LJSA after 60 days with a full report. He must also notify the board of when “day one” is, and when the trial period begins.

As for private surf instructors who illegally conduct lessons on the beach without a RFP, he said, “We are in the process of going through (websites such as) craigslist.com to find as many as we can. We’re creating a list and contacting the individuals offering private instruction and letting them know what they are doing is illegal.”

Potential surf students can identify a legally operating surf camp by a sign they carry with the City of San Diego logo that reads “permitted surf camp.”

In other LJSA news

Reports of illegal camping over holiday: Several LJSA board members reported overnight camping took place in Kellogg Park during the busy Fourth of July holiday. In what has become an annual occurrence, campers arrived in caravans late Friday night (July 3) — midnight and 1 a.m. — and set up tents to sleep at the park.

“It is absolutely illegal for them to be camping at the park,” Stropky said. Lifeguards are not on duty at night, so when Stropky left Friday night, he said everything was fine. But when he reported early Saturday morning, he said the state of Kellogg Park was “shocking.”

The late night calls of illegal camping were directed to San Diego Police Department. LJSA chair Nick LaBeouf said when he called police; he was informed the calls would be answered based on priority. LJSA member Mary Coakley-Munk said,

“The fact that this is happening does not only have an impact on the Fourth of July, but it sets a bad example for other summer weekends. They (think because they) got away with it once; they could get away with it again. The people who live down there pay a lot of money to live down there and it’s not fair for those residents.”

She also reported that smoke alarms in park-facing houses go off due to late-night fire pits and expressed concern with a tree catching fire in the park.

To be proactive, LaBeouf agreed to meet with police in the coming weeks, ahead of Labor Day, another potential camping weekend, to see if some form of enforcement could be implemented.

Pop-up art in the works: The newly formed La Jolla Shores Business Association — a group formerly known as the La Jolla Shores Merchants Association, now also including non-merchant businesses unified to give the Shores “an identity” — plans to present a pop-up art show this fall, said Terry Kraszewski. The tentative date is Sept. 20 in Laureate Park on Avenida de la Playa.

No August meeting: LJSA does not meet in August; the next meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Wednesday Sept. 9 at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Building T-29, 8840 Biological Grade. ljsa.org@gmail.com