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This Lifeguard Brought To You By…



Would sponsorships make the beach experience

more of an eyesore?

Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.



To mine for extra revenue in the face of chronic budget deficits, one city councilman recently floated an idea to allow businesses to sponsor lifeguard training, as well as trucks and other city-owned equipment.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer, whose district includes the beachfront from Ocean Beach to La Jolla, sent a letter to Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Tony Young suggesting the city sell sponsorships to fund lifeguard training as well as advertising on city equipment such as trucks and garbage cans. “That avoids the city having to pay for that,” says Faulconer. “That, in my opinion, makes perfect sense, and that is the type of thing we should do.”

Other cities along the coast allow signage on lifeguard towers and trashcans, he says.

A citizens forum, called San Diego Speaks (link: http://www.sandiego.gov/budgetandfinance/sdspeakssuggestions.shtml), suggested such sponsorships as well as sponsoring lifeguard uniforms.

In Los Angeles, trashcan advertisements rent for $50 to $100 per month; a small advertisement on seasonal lifeguard towers fetches $800 to $1,600 per month.

San Diego’s Lifeguard Services Office is currently in discussions with a company to pay for sponsorships on their trucks, says Faulconer.

“You don’t want to over-commercialize your beaches certainly, but I think you want to look for ways that … help offset some of the costs,” says Faulconer.

Last week, the City Council had to shore up a $179 million budget deficit for the next 18 months by cutting 200 city positions and scaling back library hours, maintenance of parks and beaches and public safety programs. City councilman Carl DeMaio was the sole dissenter against the budget’s passage.

Faulconer, along with DeMaio, think the city can also save money in other areas—through managed competition.

The controversial measure—which was approved by voters in 2006—would allow private companies to compete against city departments. Public labor unions, which oppose the idea, have been negotiating with the mayor’s office on a set of guidelines.

In October, the city council tabled the issue to give the groups more time, despite votes by Faulconer and DeMaio to push the issue through.

The sticking point is that two labor unions, Local 127 and the San Diego Municipal Employees Association, want healthcare benefits excluded from the bidding process.

Faulconer said he is hopeful the council can revisit the issue in 2010.

“You’d have to save at least 10 percent even to go out to bid to begin with, so I think there are a lot of protections that were in there now that would allow the city to move forward,” says Faulconer.

The city still faces a projected deficit of $77 million in fiscal 2012. A group of business leaders complained that the city did not go far enough to address the city’s structural deficit, which they estimated at $96 million. The businesses leaders want city leaders to declare a fiscal state of emergency to make deeper cuts.

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  • City: San Diego