Some lifeguards will soon have the power to issue tickets to boaters, jet skiers and other water-sports enthusiasts who violate safety regulations.
The Seal Beach City Council voted to send nine lifeguards to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department class on issuing citations next month.
The decision was made at the recommendation of the city’s Beach Commission. According to the commission, the number of recreational vehicles off the coast has risen in the last few years, with a concurrent rise in people who operate their vessels or vehicles in a reckless manner by driving too fast, coming too close to swimmers and surfers and operating in shallow waters.
Council member Marilyn Bruce Hastings said she received a letter from a resident several months ago who said his surfboard was sliced in two by a jet-skier. The surfer wrote that he would have been killed if he hadn’t ducked underneath his board when he heard the jet-ski coming, Hastings said.
In the past, lifeguards who wanted to issue citations had to call police or county officials. By the time they arrived, the offender had often gone. At most other beaches, lifeguards can issue citations, officials said.
“One reason Seal Beach probably has so much action in our water is because people know that our lifeguards are basically defenseless. They can’t do anything,” said council member Gwen Forsythe. “It is very frustrating.”