The boogey-man of budget cut-backs of lifeguards, their training, and the funding of City swimming pools was raised at a special City Council night hearing, last Monday, May 9th. And it was during this hearing – with no final vote being taken – that the issue of corporate advertising on City beach properties was – again – raised.
8 lifeguard jobs were cut by Mayor Jerry Sanders to save $973,000 in a mid-year budget adjustment in the 2010 fiscal year. Lifeguards are part of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
And it was during the discussion of how to find funding to restore half or at least some of these cuts, that the idea of the City selling advertising at the beach was raised once again. CNS reported that:
Councilman Kevin Faulconer said the city would not construct large billboards, but could place messages on lifeguard towers or trash cans. He said residents expressed support if revenues were used for lifeguard programs.
It was stated that these corporate ads could bring in an estimated $5 million annually. This was not confirmed. It was noted, however, by Council President Tony Young that this issue of corporate sponsorships was raised a year and half ago. But apparently, the Mayor office person who is responsible for corporate ads and marketing quit, and her replacement just came on board recently. The Mayor’s office is waiting for advice from the City Attorney’s Office about the legality of such signs.
This idea will indeed rattle beachgoers in Ocean Beach and elsewhere. Corporate ads on City property, like lifeguard towers, uniforms, benches, trashcans, will be a ill pill to swallow – even if it means more lifeguards and needed training. The issue has been thoroughly dissed on this blog in previous posts. We even had a little fun, by advocating for corporate ads on the uniforms of the lifeguards – with a higher revenue coming from women lifeguards’ suits. We even raised the issue of “naming rights” for Ocean Beach.
Here is part of we said back then in December 2010:
There is already some corporate advertising on lifeguard vehicles – but with all those blank walls and receptacles still there – the City could sell off that space to large corporations, and make some bucks.
Heck, why not even sell the space on lifeguard uniforms and suits? Obviously a female lifeguard’s uniform/ suit would bring more money in … okay I jest.
Seriously, this discussion has been going on for awhile now, (plus we’ve had some fun with the concept – go here). The San Diego City Council will probably be voting sometime soon on a plan to allow major name-brand advertising on all city beach lifeguard towers, beach benches, walkways, trash cans to help reduce the deficit and restore funds to lifeguards and other programs. We agree with Joe LaCava, president of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, who said: “Protecting the parks and beaches from commercialization has long been a worthy goal.”
Here are some salient points that have been brought out in this discussion so far:
- Advertising doesn’t belong on naturally picturesque beaches, as some places just have to be sacred, pristine and preserved for our sanity, and for the wild things, like birds, fish and animals.
- People go to the beach to get away from advertising blight; it’s everywhere we look, ad nauseum (pun intended). [Hat tip to Sage Faber
- We already have to put up with advertisements in the sky – you know – the long banners flying by during the summer months.
- If ads are placed on lifeguard towers, and on “lifeguard assets” like rescue trucks, surfboards, equipment, T-shirts, trunks, and bathing suits — front and back, lifeguards would be in disguise – a very bad idea.
- The advertisements themselves would possibly not be appropriate (giant Trojan ads on lifeguard stations?)
- The projected revenue from ads would only be a “spit in the bucket” – and not worth losing our naturally gorgeous, eye-pleasing, nerve-easing beaches with their panoramic views of nothing but sand and sea, swimmers, surfers, and all manner of happy ad-free people;
- And importantly, if ads took over parts of our beaches, local businesses and volunteer groups would be less likely to hold beach clean-ups and feel compelled to pick up trash beside the brand-names and their logos. In fact, one local business who frankly does quite a bit of cleaning of Dog Beach would absolutely halt their donations to the community, if ads are allowed.
On a more serious note, we also know businesses in OB who contribute to beach clean-ups who would be a lot less inclined to sponsor them if corporate advertisers took over.