Does Moonlight Beach need more sheriff’s deputies for daytime summer policing? Encinitas City Council members weren’t sure at the June 10 meeting and voted to take more time to consider a $200,000 budget item for an additional sheriff’s deputy.
“I thought the staff report wasn’t clear and convincing that adding a deputy was going to address the issues we have,” said councilman Tony Kranz. “We need to have consensus on what the problems are we want to address and clarity on what the solutions are.
Capt. Theresa Adams-Hydar, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officer who oversees the department’s contracted policing services in the North County coastal city, sent a letter to the city manager dated June 2 outlining the budget proposal.
“Encinitas beaches have become the destination location for North County beach-goers,” Adams-Hydar wrote. “During the summer months, lifeguard staffing is increased but sheriff’s staffing has historically stayed the same despite the increased calls for service from beachgoers and lifeguards.” She stated that the number of deputies who patrol has not changed in ten years.
Adams-Hydar proposed “A dedicated two-man beach team” that would work the Highway 101 corridor off-season.
Does Encinitas need more beach policing? Encinitas MainStreet 101 executive director Thora Guthrie thinks that’s putting resources in the wrong place.
“When I read the memo, it wasn’t clear to me if they mean the beach itself or the beach community,” Guthrie said. “The beach isn’t that much of a problem — the issues I see are downtown.”
Guthrie, who also lives near the 101 corridor, says the downtown problems are alcohol-related, noise, vagrants, and general rowdiness. And, she says, there’s a lack of parking enforcement and an influx of homeless people drawn to the Community Resource Center’s food program.
“These are the last things on the deputies’ list of things they respond to, and we understand that,” she said. “But for us, these things are a problem.”
Adding cops at the beach won’t help, she said. So she was glad to see the budget line item withdrawn for further discussion.
Councilman Mark Muir and mayor Kristin Gaspar voted to approve the additional staffing.
“I brought the item forward and I still believe this position is needed based on core service and priorities, public comments, and concerns,” Muir said. “I certainly hope that those that voted against it will do their homework or due diligence and come around to supporting this needed position.”
Muir noted that Adams-Hydar identified a need for between two and five additional patrol officers.
“Public safety should never be an afterthought,” Muir said.
But Guthrie takes a nuanced view, especially since it costs an estimated $198,677 to bring on a fully equipped and trained deputy.
“We want some controls — we want a nightlife but we don’t want the crazy party life with people vomiting on sidewalks and sleeping in the bushes,” Guthrie said. “Adding more police for things that are a nuisance may not be the best way to spend money to address these issues.”