Newport Beach is So Trying to be the Next Costa Mesa: Considering Layoffs, Including Lifeguards

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Newport Beach sits just to the south/southeast west of the oh-so-troubled city of Costa Mesa. It's a city full of pretty people and prettier cars. It has 10 miles of coastline. Its population is 90-plus percent white and the median value of a home is said to exceed $1 million. And yet, just like Costa Mesa, it's considering layoffs as a means to help trim $9.4 million from the budget.

Nearly 60 employees received notices earlier this month that their job make be in jeopardy. Of the people who received notices, the city expects that 25 will end up being laid off. According to an OC Register story, the city plans to eliminate 50 positions, some of which are currently vacant, if a budget proposal presented by City Manager Dave Kiff is passed.

Are the Newport Beach council chambers about to see fireworks, similar to what's been on display in Costa Mesa?

It's possible, but unlikely. Costa Mesa sent layoff notices to one-third of its city employees, whereas Newport Beach sent notices to nearly one-sixteenth of its city workforce. Some of the NB positions may be outsourced (beach trash collection, parking meters)--a very unpopular term around these parts, lately--while others would be eliminated altogether.

What does have Newport Beach residents upset is that among those positions facing the financial ax are a number of full-time lifeguards. Though the lifeguard towers sit mostly unoccupied from mid-fall through mid-spring, there are lifeguards on duty. Some are at headquarters, at the base of the Newport Beach pier, while others are roaming the sand behind the wheel of a truck or in the water in one of the boats.

​Kiff doesn't think off-season lifeguards are necessary. His rationale?

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Chasen Marshall/OC Weekly
City Manager Dave Kiff doesn't think off-season lifeguards are necessary--this is NB in late October.
"I don't think the city's taxpayers should have to fund someone's choices to go swimming in January or December when the waves are rougher, there's more risk. We don't need to have a Cadillac program like that," Kiff told ABC-7

"I struggle with the idea that we have people in our city management structure who don't realize that people use the beach in Southern California year-round," said Brent Jacobsen, the president of the Lifeguard Management Association and a lifeguard for over 25 years. "I'm shocked. This is the city of Newport Beach, we're a beach city."

At the beginning of the year, the lifeguard organization had 17 permanent employees. There have been four retirements, positions which have been left vacant, according to Jacobsen. Kiff's prosposal would cut the number down to eight full-time lifeguards, who would be left to monitor all 10 miles of coastline.

Among the full-time lifeguards facing possible layoff is the Junior Lifeguard safety captain, who is responsible for overseeing the safety precautions for a program of 1,250 children and 40 instructors.

Jacobsen did point out that Kiff and members of his staff are attempting to work with the lifeguards to come up with suitable alternatives, but at this point, none has been found. Kiff's willingness to work with the lifeguards still doesn't satisfy Jacobsen's frustration about the city manager's belief that the city shouldn't be accountable for beachgoers from October through May. 

Two days ago, the lifeguards had a "horrific close call," according to Jacobsen. Two 7-year-olds had to be rescued near 56th Street. Fortunately, lifeguards arrived in time to save their lives.

The Weekly tried to contact Kiff for comment, but he was out of town.

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16 comments
mYtY
mYtY

It sounds like they are going ahead with many of the cuts. The only safe areas seem to be the Police, Fire, and the City Manager's (Dave Kiff) yoga class.

lindn2
lindn2

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Woody
Woody

Isn't Newport Beach building a new $60 million dollar Civic Center???.....WTF???? Their also thinking about cutting the Junior Life Guard Safety Captain in charge of 1250 kids...Yeah we don't need safety...( didn't HB just have a horrible accident in their JLG program a few years ago? I wonder if they cut their safety captain?) Has anyone watched The Lifeguards of Bondi....we really think were gonna teach the world water safety...I think our existing Civic Center in Newport is fine so scrap that project sell it to Bren and let him build some Mc-mansions or some more vacant office space...and lets keep people employed in our town...especially people who save lives, not spend money, like politicians and council members....

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junior
junior

Some say that, due to budget considerations, more outsourcing is headed toward many cities.

Santa Ana resident George Collins has performed another of his great community services. He video recorded Costa Mesa’s “Feet to the Fire” panel discussion (debate) featuring Costa Mesa council members, OCEA representatives and news organizations.

However you feel about outsourcing of city performed work – this debate, through George’s video, gives us a better understanding of the issues and the process.

Find George’s video on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

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Realistic
Realistic

What does 90% percent white and prettier cars have to do with this article? Are white people not supposed to sacrifice when budgets come into play? I'm white and I still have to balance my check book all by myself.

Out of the 10 miles of coastline, I'm sure parts of it doesn't need a life guard present. 8 lifeguards seems reasonable in a time when the state and all city's are trying save money. If this isn't done now, just think of how worse it could get if the sacrifices aren't made now.

I go to the beach often, people just need to be educated on safety. Lifeguards need to be involved with this and many times I've seen them standing around not doing what they are supposed to. Safety at the beach education and additional signs that list this would help. Some people just don't know.

8 lifeguards is sufficient at this time. We all have to make sacrifices at one time or another. We all not might not like it but we know it has to be done so the future looks more promising :)

Cheers!

Novak
Novak

Chasen - Newport is to the South and Southeast of Costa Mesa

Leroytm
Leroytm

it is a 150 Million dollar city hall

That is 150,000,000 for you Leslie Daigle. How can you be a fiscal conservative with that kind of wasteful spending.

Lets put the money on people and safety.

But then Leslie can't put a plaque with her name on a child that has been rescues. Not a good return on investment, Huh Leslie?

Now it makes sense!

Leroytm
Leroytm

Thats 8 lifeguard total for a 365 operation.

That works out to 3 beach lifeguard per day.

Not the odds I want with my family.

Richardrobert
Richardrobert

Wow. Thanks for solving the whole issue! Eight lifeguards is plenty and "people just need to be educated on safety". The lifeguards are standing around not doing what they're supposed to?? You're the expert on everything. You should call up Newport city council and let them know you have a degree in ocean lifeguarding with an emphasis in OC ocean rescue. Instead of eight idiot lifeguards they should just pay you to be "the" NB lifeguard. You could just educate everyone. And you could do what you're supposed to be doing! Genius! Weird that the lifeguards never figured out they should educate people! They must be too busy standing around.

Why do those guys think certifications, experience, water skills and training mean anything? Dumbasses! You go down to the beach sometimes, that's all it takes to be the authority on lifeguarding! Thank you for your post, you just saved many lives As well as newport's finances.

Kaonashi
Kaonashi

I used to think that NB was to the far right of CM, but now I consider them just parallel.

Chasen_Marshall
Chasen_Marshall

Yep. Good catch, Novak. I just think that NB is between CM and the ocean, so I figure west. My bad.

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