City ready for influx of visitors

City ready for influx of visitors
City Council members ask at its July 7 meeting on how much it costs for each city department to prepare for and respond to an expected 2 million summer visitors. File photo

DEL MAR — Following a July 7 presentation highlighting the efforts of each city department to prepare for and respond to an expected 2 million summer visitors, council members had basically one question.

How much does all this cost?

“We spend a lot of money so other people can have nice vacations,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “I think we’re subsidizing good times on the backs of our citizens.

“We do spend a lot of money supporting visitor services,” Mosier added. “My opinion is that we need to find a way to shift some of those costs to our visitors.”

A breakdown of the costs of the additional services is not available because they have always been factored into the annual budget.

Council members hinted to staff they would like to see an itemized list.

“We don’t quite understand what the additional premiums are for this summer preparation,” Councilman Al Corti said. “It’d be nice just to kind of understand. Is it $50,000 or is it hundreds of thousands of dollars? For our benefit, as well as the community benefit, it might be helpful.”

“I think the community as a whole is probably not aware of all the things that we do,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said.

The Community Services Department provides the most visible services with all lifeguard stations open. Staffing increases by the equivalent of seven full-time employees.

There is a greater need for the park ranger due to special events. Parking enforcement is also beefed up, with extended hours and the addition of one officer.

The Community Services Department also coordinates all the youth camps to minimize the impact on traffic and the surrounding neighborhood, especially during pickup and drop-off times.

The Sheriff’s Department targets enforcement in the beach area, near the fairgrounds and downtown, especially in the bar areas. There is increased attention to preventing vehicle burglaries and thefts, including special details and surveillance.

The senior volunteer patrol is deployed in identified “hot areas” to help disseminate information regarding safety concerns, crime trends and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Much of the increased law enforcement is needed in and around the Del Mar Fairgrounds during the fair and horse race meet, but those costs are covered by the 22nd District Agricultural Association.

The Fire Department prepares for beach- and fairgrounds-related emergencies as well as wildfire response.

Before summer starts the Public Works Department power washes the business district sidewalks, repairs the tot lot, fertilizes the parks, refreshes red curb paint and places portable restrooms at North Beach.

The beach maintenance staff nearly doubles in the summer and coverage hours are expanded. The frequency of beach cleaning increases from twice a week to three times.

At the request of residents, more trash receptacles are placed on Beach Colony streets. A restroom attendant is scheduled at the Powerhouse and 17th Street Beach Safety Center from July through September, something some council members were surprised to learn.

Kristen Crane, assistant to the city manager, said the staff report highlighted the efforts of the departments that are “on the front line all summer,” but all city staff members are involved in planning for and responding to the additional calls.

Sinnott said he appreciates all the city does to prepare for the population swell, but he is troubled by the law enforcement portion.

He said he would like to see more details, especially when it comes to traffic violations in the Beach Colony.

“It’s annoying kind of stuff that’s sometimes hard to solve but those are the kind of things that we need to be thinking about,” he said.


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