A tribute to lifeguards


By David S. Druker

During economic downturns, talk often moves to such subjects as assets and essential goods and services. Whether real or perceived, periods of belt-tightening catalyze a shift in thinking. We look for value in what we need, what we are close to, and how we might sustain those assets.

For citizens and visitors to the city of Del Mar, there can be no greater asset than the beaches and near-shore waters. As San Diego County’s population has tripled within the last 20 years, visitors especially see our beach as an important part of their life.

What makes the beaches of Del Mar rise to the top of our collective lists? Is it the physical geography or unfettered access, the aesthetics or the safe and sane way in which thousands of users with a multitude of motives are able to co-exist?

If you visit some of the beaches to the south you will see that the city of San Diego has been forced to implement a near police state during peak summer weekends.

Yet in Del Mar, something must be going very right when, after increased parking challenges, alcohol and smoking bans and a dearth of early-summer sand, visitor numbers are still at record levels.

While the physical conditions of wind, water and waves are eminent and immutable, creating the optimal environment for multiple use falls to the responsibility of City of Del Mar employees. And while political structures in Del Mar have an interesting history, the lifeguards and park rangers who ride point know that, like many things in Del Mar, gravity sends responsibility right to the water’s edge.

Most people go to the beach to get away from their hectic lives and don’t want all their personal freedoms taken away. But we must realize that we live in one of the most densely populated coastal regions on the planet. Our personal freedoms only go so far as they affect others. Most people like the fact that someone with medical, rescue and people skills have their eyes on our kids and families at the beach.

It stems from pride and equity-people who live and work in Del Mar on the beach realize that without the right mix of education and supervision the beaches, waves and walkways would spin out of control. They realize we have an irreplaceable asset here. We can’t own it but we can protect it.

If history is our teacher, recessionary times will create an increase in beach and ocean usage; people will come for escape, for recreation and because it is free those who keep it safe will be here every day helping set up umbrellas, breaking up fights, and keeping your kids safe from the rowdy, the rocks and the rips.

Finally, I want to thank the editors of the Del Mar Times for the expression of confidence concerning a raise for the Del Mar City Council. Given the current budget constraints, I don’t believe that now is the time to ask the citizens of Del Mar for a raise.