Proposed cuts in lifeguard staffing would make beaches unsafe, critics say
It's not very likely that a lifeguard will spot someone swept to sea by a rip current in the middle of the winter. That's when guards operate with a stripped-down workforce and can only patrol some parts of the city's beaches once a day.
If Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff's budget proposal is passed, the odds of rescue will be even longer.
By cutting full-time staff during the off-season, Kiff said he believes Newport Beach can save money while still meeting its public-safety obligations. The guards disagree. They say they won't be able to keep the beaches safe enough and that tourism could ultimately suffer as a result.
Brent Jacobsen, president of the Lifeguard Management Assn., said the cuts would leave just a few guards to respond to emergencies on any given day during the off-season, from the end of October until the beginning of March.
"It's simply not enough to run an operation like that," he said. "It's just not safe."
-- Mike Reicher, Daily Pilot / Times Community News
Photo: Spectators watch waves crashing onto Corona Del Mar State Beach in Newport Beach. Credit: Cristine Cotter / Los Angeles Times