San Diego Association for Lifeguards

"Because one drowning is one too many"


The San Diego Association for Lifeguards is an organization dedicated to the preservation of Lifeguard services on San Diego beaches.  As the City of San Diego faces another round of budget cuts, basic safety services are in jeopardy. As professional Lifeguards who work these beaches on a year-round basis, we understand the potential catastrophic consequences of reducing staffing levels at city beaches, bays, and the 24-hour Boating Safety Unit, or worse yet, completely un-staffing Lifeguard towers. If you want to keep your beaches and bays safe, read on, get involved.  Tell the political contingent you want to keep Lifeguards on the beach! 

San Diego City Council Adopts Mayors Budget Plan

On December 9th, 2009, the City Council adopted Mayor Jerry Sanders proposal that will go into effect January 1, 2009. Although the citizens of San Diego have voiced their opinion in opposition of reducing service levels, Blacks beach will become an un-supervised beach.

SanDAL would like to officially thank everyone for your support and hard work in the SanDAL project. If you do go to Blacks, we suggest that you exercise caution; know your limitations, and bring a communication device.


Ocean Lifeguard service began in 1917, prompted by 13 downing’s in a single day at Ocean Beach ( Over time, as the population grew, and as aquatic recreation became popular, the City of San Diego had to constantly evaluate the need for Lifeguards on City beaches. Today, an average of 5 million people visit San Diego City beaches. Lifeguards make over 5,000 water rescues a year, and perform and average of 30 cliff rescues, and 3,000 medical aids annually; additionally, Lifeguards are public officers, and are responsible for law enforcement in Mission Bay, and the coastal region. Although these numbers are impressive, the most important statistic to focus your attention on, is the number of preventative acts Lifeguards perform. Based on a six year average, San Diego Lifeguards make over 200,000 acts that prevented the need for rescue, and prevented possible injury or death each year. When you examine these numbers, it’s easy to see that un-staffing Lifeguard towers could create a catastrophic situation. Currently, areas like North Pacific Beach, South Mission beach, the Children’s pool, La Jolla Cove, and Blacks beach are all staffed with two permanent Lifeguards during the winter months. If the city decided to reduce the staffing to one Lifeguard, Lifeguards would be unable to perform most preventative acts, rather, wait till a swimmer is in distress, or actively drowning, before exiting the tower to perform a rescue. Furthermore, other bathers would go unsupervised; and the Lifeguard would have to take his eyes of the drowning victim while he/she runs downstairs, gets into a vehicle, drive to the scene, and hopefully arrives before the victim slips under water. At that point, the last seen point of submersion would be difficult to determine, because nobody was watching the victim while the Lifeguard tried to get there on time.  San Diego Lifeguards have the additional responsibility of staffing the 24-hour Boating Safety Unit. The current staffing is strategic so that Lifeguards can handle any type of water related emergency day and night. Any reducition in night crew would essentially cut the legs out from underneath them. It’s easy to see, if the city decides to cut our current services, people will get hurt, people will die.


History Lesson

In 1983, the City attempted to close Blacks beach and removed Lifeguards from the area; the result, delayed response to emergencies and a fatal drowning. The following attatchement is an article from the LA Times regarding the incident.

black's drowning 1983.jpg

Get Involved

A budget shortfall does exist and we certainly do not expect to not to share part of the burden to move towards a balanced budget. For fiscal year 09, Lifeguards agreed to pay cuts and mandatory furlough. More cuts need to be made, which is understandable. However, reducing staffing levels or un-staffing towers, or cutting the Boating Safety Unit, would be morally irresponsible. “One drowning is one too many”.

If you want to keep Lifeguards one the beaches and bays, follow the How You Can Help Tab. Write your political representative, write the Mayors office. Tell your story. If you or a loved one was saved by a Lifeguard, share your story. Get Invloved!