Pacific Beach Planning Board Tackles “Garage Morphing”, Lifeguard Stations, and Less Beach

by on June 20, 2012 · 5 comments

in Environment, San Diego

By Sub-Committee / Special to San Diego Free Press

The second, and last, item on the agenda of the very recent Pacific Beach Planning Board sub-committee for the re-development of the North Pacific Beach lifeguard station at Law St. was to do with a complaint from some local resident at some other local resident for erecting a temporary car shelter, of the canopy type, I imagine, and morphing it into a more permanent garage in their driveway or front yard, without a permit, of course.

This must also be the sub-committee for code compliance. The committee members seemed of a mind to propose a change in the city “garage morphing” building codes, rather than trying to enforce existing city ordinances, (“morphing” anything into something else is the best way to get around all these ridiculous governmental laws they keep making!) and as a second thought, suggested calling “the TURKO Files” to complain, as Mr. Turko seems to be the only one willing to question bureaucratic policies, and actually get something done about it… thank you Mr. Turko!

My mission in attending this sub-committee meeting is as part of a group of concerned citizens questioning the first item on the agenda, an over 10 year old council decision (R2963559) to build a new lifeguard tower (2000+sq ft, multi-car garage, (“emergency vehicle facility”, sorry) observation tower, his/hers dressing rooms (“locker rooms”, sorry) kitchen, etc…) on the beach at the foot of Law St. in Pacific Beach. We appreciate the idea behind the string of lifeguard towers up and down our coast, most of them in our local sector in the process of being re-modeled, (La Jolla, Ocean Beach, PB Grand Ave.just finished being re-modeled, thank you California re-development laws!)) and the safety they represent for thousands of tourists, and locals, mostly during the busy weeks in the summer, but year around as well, we acknowledge, especially for the surfing accidents, etc… Thank you San Diego lifeguards!

We are concerned because there seems to be less beach on this beach than 10 years ago, especially at high tides when the ocean reaches the base of the bluffs, and is in the process of eroding the land away. We have noticed the effects of global warming/rising ocean levels on our own beaches. We think extreme environmental damage will results from the city’s’ effort to build at this particularly compromised location. We notice the small mountains of seaweed and sand piled up by the city corps almost everyday, and especially in winter, to deflect the ocean tides and swells from undermining everything along the coast. We don’t think these piles of sand and seaweed constitute a solid base for a $5million project. We think that the city will be wasting a lot of time and money, and further destroy in the process the delicate balance of bluff to shore that is being accepted as one of the best ways to limit coastal erosion with the changing climatic conditions we are currently experiencing.

We question why the city has established an environmental protection “no-fish” zone just off-shore from Law St., and special beaches protected just for the harbor seals not far away in La Jolla, but wants to rip apart and develop into a cement hub, similar to the Grand Ave lifeguard station, (which we unlovingly call the “parking lot” around here) this fragile and disappearing coastal bluff beach.

We also dare to question the “millions”of rescues (direct quote from the lifgeguard chief at the meeting)effectuated by the lifeguards every year as incentive for the city to provide more and better installations for them. We question “what constitutes a rescue?” I fear, I am the cause personally of a few unnecessary “rescues” every year, usually when I am standing ankle deep in the designated surf zone to cool off, and am rescued by the lifeguard, and told to “move on” at the risk of getting a ticket. Once I was rescued just standing by the edge of the water where there was a small rip current nearby. A group of friends and family and I (including small children) were rescued one evening around 8pm, presumably from the terrors of the night, for sitting around a (permitted) small bbq fire and were told to “not be there” when the lifeguards passed by the next time (we weren’t). My question to the lifeguards is: does that count as one (1) rescue or several as there were several people present?

Being a mother, I know how paranoid you can get with the responsibility of guarding inexperienced bathers from a potentially dangerous ocean, so I sympathize with the duties of their job. I don’t sympathize with governmental agencies exaggerating or falsifying data to obtain more budget appropriations from their city. The era of the “iron men” of the beach has become the era of “comfort stations”, security nazis and budget begging… I would like to request a break-down of the “real” rescue data from them, (as it is confidential), to be able to make an informed decision about the necessity of the lifeguard tower they are requesting at Law Street, for their crew of 6 lifeguards. The only death on the water that I can remember from recent times came from the coast guards zooming too fast in their boat on San Diego bay and running into a family boat resulting in the death of a child, or the drowning of a boggie boarder off of Black’s Beach last year where there is no life guard service.

I am also going to take a surfboard to the beach from now on, so that I can then take a dip in the surf zones , much less crowded, without giving any cause to the lifeguard to rescue me, and therefore reduce the number of rescues over-taxing our beach defenders, and save our city some money.

Sub-Committee is the nom de plume of a PB activist.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lifeguard Medic June 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm

First off I really enjoy this source of news. It’s a great balance to the more conservative UT. OB Rag more often that not is a much more accurate source of “news.”

As a beach Lifeguard in Southern California; rescues are defined as when you have to physically help someone out of the water. Some are not critical, there are those that are so critical that you are positive that person wouldn’t have survived without being rescued and most fall in between those two extremes. Relocating you from the surfing zone to the swimming zone or out of a rip current while still standing is referred to as a preventative act. Yes we also perform medical aids and enforce laws(mostly stern warnings).

Thanks again for keeping San Diego informed and stay safe!


Albert Bundy June 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Great mis-representation of that meeting. Makes for good press I guess.

That said, your comments regarding “rescues” and some real statistics are, in my humble opinion, with merit.


Jerry Hall June 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Lifeguard statistics are not private. Matter of fact anyone can go here: to learn more about what our Fire-Rescue Department does with it’s day at the beach.

Also, doesn’t it seem somewhat irresponsible to accuse prior to asking the SDFD for this information? There’s also a year full of budget hearings, all open to the public, each and every year where one can get these questions answered.

It’s all not a conspiracy :)


micaela shafer porte June 27, 2012 at 7:38 am

budget appropriations are not conspiracy, just political maneuvering among interested parties


micaela shafer porte July 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

the city of san diego lifeguards stats at the united states lifeguard association to which you refer indicate that your yearly beach attendance has gone down by millions for the past couple of years, but your yearly rescues are going up.


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