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Huntington Beach cuts lifeguards as busy summer season approaches

May 13, 2010 |  7:37 am

Due to budget cuts, Huntington Beach is planning to reduce the number of lifeguards patrolling its popular beaches.

Beachgoers will have to watch where they swim now that lifeguards will no longer be stationed at two towers between Goldenwest Street and Seapoint Avenue. The lifeguards will be replaced by signs warning visitors of the dangers of swimming in the ocean.

At a City Council study session earlier in the month, Marine Safety Chief Kyle Lindo, Fire Chief Patrick McIntosh and Police Chief Ken Small laid out the cuts their respective departments had to make after the latest rounds of budget cuts.

“We all know there’s a budget problem ... but for this summer, I think we’ve made good decisions based on the budget monies we have, and I think we will get through this summer with the planning we have done,” Small told the Huntington Beach Independent.

The city had to fill a $4-million revenue shortfall by asking departments to chop their budgets. Departments axed about $3.4 million, and union concessions saved the city another $1.4 million to fill the gap for this year. The city has cut $20 million over the last 18 months, but officials are predicting an additional $3 million will need to be slashed next year, said City Administrator Fred Wilson.

The Marine Safety Division also lost training opportunities and eliminated skill assessment for returning lifeguards in order to slash $64,962 from its budget.

The cuts will have a “minimal” effect on the public, and the high-volume areas of the beach will maintain service levels and not be impacted, Lindo said.

“There will be service, but it will be more reactive than proactive,” he said.

Read the full story here.

-- Britney Barnes, Huntington Beach Independent

Photo: A lifeguard near the Huntington Beach pier. Credit: Los Angeles Times