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Public pensions: Should lifeguards receive same status, retirement plan as cops?

June 16, 2011 |  9:23 am


Talk back LAThe battle over California's costly public pensions has a new -– and unlikely -– poster child: municipal lifeguards.

Some full-time municipal lifeguards pull in six-figure salaries. One Newport Beach lifeguard recently retired at 51 with an annual pension of $108,000, plus medical benefits, report the Times' Catherine Saillant and Mike Reicher.

Most full-time lifeguards get the most generous public retirement plan -- the same "public safety" pensions received by police officers and firefighters. Lifeguards argue that they deserve the benefits because they put their lives at risk, not just from rescuing beachgoers but because of an elevated risk of skin cancer from years under the sun.

But a growing number of cities -- including Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and San Diego -- are demanding that lifeguards cut their pensions. Solana Beach has already taken action. In fall contract negotiations, Newport Beach will ask public-safety workers to accept a pension worth up to 50% less for new hires.

What do you think of lifeguard pensions? Should these city workers -– who patrol our beaches and sometimes save lives -– be placed in the same "public safety" pension category as police officers and firefighters? Share your thoughts.


Lifeguards' special-status pensions under scrutiny in California

Counties may be forced to reveal workers' pension payments

Photo: A lifeguard mans a tower in Newport Beach on Monday. Credit: Christina House / For The Times