Lifeguards Sent Home for Winter

Torrey Pines State Beach, also known as Black’s Beach, will be reducing the months that lifeguards patrol its shores from June to Labor Day after a proposal made by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders was approved by the San Diego City Council on Dec. 14 in order to accommodate city budget reductions.

Previously, the city of San Diego assigned lifeguards to protect beachgoers from late March through October. Black’s was chosen for cuts as it is has smaller attendance than other beaches in the area.

“It’s not as heavily populated in terms of beachgoers as other beaches,” San Diego fire department spokesperson Maurice Luque said. “So we had to put our resources where the highest danger was in terms of number of people that are at the beach.”

Sanders designed the proposal to save money for the city and fire department.

Photos By TIMOTHY WONG/Guardian

“It’s all part of the budget cuts that all city departments are facing right now,” Luque said.“There’s only so much to go around. We have to prioritize where it’s put and where we put our personnel.”

With no lifeguards assigned to the beach itself from September to May, response time to any call can take around 20 minutes. The closest beach to Black’s with lifeguards on patrol will remain La Jolla Shores Beach.

“We’re advising people to be careful [and] don’t put themselves at risk,” Luque said. “If something happens, there may be a delayed time of response to get somebody over there to help.”

Lifeguards originally scheduled to patrol Black’s will be reassigned to other local beaches.

Black’s suffered from other cuts last year as well. Service reductions such as the removal of waste bins and the closing of restroom facilities were implemented last fall.

Many UCSD students still visit Black’s in the winter, when no lifeguards patrol originally.

“It doesn’t make a difference to me,” Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore Phillip Wybenga said. “I’ll still go to Black’s Beach. I don’t think the reduction of lifeguards on duty will really deter a lot of people from going there. There’s always a little risk of getting injured in really any activity, [and] there was never really a great presence of lifeguards there… Black’s Beach is just too much fun.”

Additional reporting by Kashi Khorasani.

Readers can contact Ayelet Bitton at [email protected].

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