CARLSBAD — Safety along the city’s coastline has and continues to be a priority.
Specifically, the North Beach section from the Oceanside border to about one-and-a-half miles south is not covered by lifeguards.
Carlsbad Fire Chief Mike Davis, police Chief Neill Gallucci and Pete Rover, special counsel to the city manager’s office, presented their safety report to the City Council last week.
As a result, the council approved a motion for city staff to provide safety recommendations, including the possibility of locking gates at beach entrances and resident outreach.
North Beach is one of the more dangerous stretches, Davis said, noting the significant rescues in July 2016.
“To provide safety and get public input, I think we can do it,” Davis said. “It will be a lot of work.”
“I am of the opinion staff can do the necessary analysis to make a decision with regards to the active season this summer,” added City Manager Kevin Crawford. “We will commit to you to come back to you with an analysis with options provide protection and the locking of the gates.”
Davis said there were 335 water rescues by state lifeguard, seven non-fatal drowning’s and one fatality. From July 2 to July 4 there were 197 rescues.
The state owns 82 percent of the seven miles of beach along Carlsbad’s coastline, which are enforced by state park rangers and lifeguards.
For Terramar and North Beach, though, Carlsbad fire and police provide safety services. They then request lifeguards, depending on the call, Davis said.
There are signs warning swimmers and surfers of no lifeguard patrolling at North Beach.
But why are the beaches busier, Davis asked. He said there is not one big hotel or increase in vacation rentals. He said easy food access, bathrooms and free parking may be the root cause.
“These are the only reasons why I can understand why the crowds come to the North Beach,” Davis said.
As for the overlapping request from the council, they were in agreement the city must act quickly, but also needs to include residents, especially those who live near the beach.
“I would hope, we give them at least one chance to weigh in on this,” Mayor Matt Hall said of property owners. “I think we would glean some really good information above and beyond what we heard tonight.”
In addition, several residents said they would be in favor of adding another lifeguard tower, since Tower 38 forces current lifeguards to travel several hundred yards or more than one mile to provide services.
Councilman Mark Packard said that locking gates are an intriguing option since it would reduce access before 6 a.m. and after 10 p.m. However, lockable gates require a permit from the California Coastal Commission.
There are currently two entry points with lockable gates with timers, but the other five are open for 24 hours.
“Just having a presence there for beachgoers would help the residents who live there,” said Councilman Michael Schumacher. “I would like to explore the idea of locking gates.”