Saturday, June 1, 2013

Oceanside Beach Safety- Need Blackball up by 9am

The following email from Bruce Robbins should draw the attention of all Southern California bodysurfers:

From: Bruce Robbins MD []
Subject: Fwd: Oceanside Beach Safety- Need Blackball up by 9am PLEASE READ THIS

Hi Fellow Bodysurfers-  I know you are all partial to Del Mar, but this is an important issue for all bodysurfers who want to go to Oceanside, and for water safety in general.  With increased crowds of board surfers and tourist surfers in Oceanside, conditions are getting dangerous in the morning for bodysurfers, swimmers,  and other non-hard board surfers.  We need Oceanside to catch up with the rest of San Diego County beaches and get the blacbkball up in one section of beach by 9am.  Their current policy of 11am blackball and light enforcement is not good, and people are going to get hurt. 
See the email below I sent to Bill Curtiss, the Chief Lifeguard at Oceanside.  Please  send Bill Curtiss an email of support.  (You could mention something like you don't go to Oceanside because they don't have a good blackball policy like Del Mar; or you could tell the story of our DM Bodysurfing Club that could only have formed because of Del Mar's blackball policy- you get what I mean....)  Also, feel free to send this along to any other bodysurfers you know who would be supportive that aren't on the Del Mar list.
thanks a lot!! 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bruce Robbins MD <>
Date: Thu, May 30, 2013 at 7:11 AM
Subject: Re: Beach Safety
To: Bill Curtis <>

Hi Bill-  Thanks for getting in touch with me. 
I have a serious concern regarding water safety that I want to communicate with you.

I am a resident of Oceanside and a very experienced bodysurfer; I have been bodysurfing at Oceanside for over 28 years, you have probably seen me and my friends bodysurfing on the north or south sides of the pier.  We like to go out in the morning when the conditions are good.  Up until the recent redevelopment of downtown Oceanside, the water was never that crowded with boards, and being experienced in the water, we always felt safe.  Also, traditionally, Oceanside board surfers were generally experienced and good surfers.  However, in recent years, especially last summer, and now this spring, the water in the morning is getting ridiculously crowded with boards, and especially with surfers who are beginners.  These inexperienced surfers are creating DANGEROUS conditions for us, as they don't know how to control their boards, and they don't know how to get out of the way for a bodysurfer (or bodyboarder).  Many are not perceptive enough to even see a bodysurfer on a wave.  This is creating hazardous conditions for bodysurfers and bodyboarders who have no designated swim zone. 

I know that Oceanside has had a policy to put up the blackball flags at 11:00 am, but there are MANY non-board surfers who want to go in the water before 11am, and who are now at risk of injury from the crowded conditions with hard surfboards and people who don't know how to control them.  Every other beach I am aware of in San Diego County has a section of beach that is blackballed at 9:00 am - this includes Del Mar, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach (which has a 24hr. blackball zone), to name some examples.  And these blackball zones are strongly enforced by the lifeguards all year long.

It appears to me that Oceanside Lifeguards have not examined policies that were put in place many years ago, and were appropriate at the time.  However, times have changed. Oceanside downtown is totally different, there is a big new hotel going up, there are more tourists in the water.  My concern is not just for the safety of myself and my friends without hard boards, but for the increasing number of tourist visitors to Oceanside beaches, many of whom will want to go for a swim before 11am this summer.  I am concerned that someone will be seriously injured from an out-of-control surfboard. (I have had many close calls myself, and one time suffered broken ribs by running over the back of a longboard at Oceanside)  I am concerned for the City of Oceanside that is at risk for a lawsuit from someone who is injured because there is no safe place to swim before 9am.

So, I am writing this letter to ask you to PLEASE seriously consider changing your blackball policy to have at least one section of beach blackballed for no board surfing at 9:00 am, and to vigorously enforce this policy.  It doesn't have to be the whole beach.  In Del Mar, they blackball one section of beach which is approximately 100 yards wide, in front of the lifeguard tower at 17th street, with flags on the beach.  My son was a lifeguard at Del Mar for several years, and I know all the head lifeguards there.  Pat Vergne is the Lifeguard Chief, Mark Rathsam is second in charge, I'm sure they would be happy to talk with you about their policies.  I know that board surfers have an attitude about blackball zones, and a change in policy like this will be unpopular with board surfers; but like I said above, times have changed, and this is important for safety of swimmers, bodysurfers and bodyboards, who will be in the water whether you change your policy or not.

Thank you very much for your attention to my request.  I would appreciate a response.  If there is anything else I can do to help make this change happen, please tell me what I need to do.

Thank you,

Bruce Robbins MD
500 North The Strand #47
Oceanside CA

On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 11:07 AM, Bill Curtis <> wrote:
Mr. Robbins,

Lifeguard Sergeant Masson Turvey forwarded me your e-mail regarding your concern for Beach Safety.

Please feel free to correspond directly with me regarding any ideas or concerns regarding our city beaches and their safety.

Thank you,

Bill Curtis
Lifeguard Captain
Oceanside Fire Department
“All email and voicemail to and from the City may be considered public information and may be disclosed upon request.”

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