New Emergency Services, Oceanside Port Public Safety Plan Approved

Lifeguards will replace police officers who provide public safety services such as boat rescues, firefighting, dock inspections and more in the Oceanside Harbor, according to a plan unanimously approved by Oceanside City Council on Wednesday.

The city’s police and fire department have been working with port officials and users to develop the plan for two years, partly in response to complaints that police forces are too often being withdrawn for incidents in other parts of the city, slowing response times and abandoning port assets unprotected at the port.

Full implementation of the fire department-led plan is slated for early 2023 and is expected to save $240,000 annually on what the city’s port district pays for public safety services, Fire Chief David Parsons said at Wednesday’s city council meeting.

“It’s a good starting point, a work in progress,” Parsons said.

The plan calls for a one-year lease of two suites, three parking spaces and a covered parking bay at the Oceanside Marina Suites Hotel on Harbor Drive for $99,600. The rooms are used by fire department lifeguards who work a standard 56-hour week in 24-hour shifts.

“This is not seen as a permanent solution and staff will continue to explore options to obtain grant funding to build a new facility or modify other existing locations in the port, including a potential remodeling of the existing Port Police Department Headquarters,” said one staffer the city report says.

Mark Mallaby, a member of the city’s Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee, said the change will improve public safety at the harbor, although it would be better to find a long-term site for the overnight quarters.

“I feel like we really hit the right mix here,” Mallaby said. “It will improve services in the port.”

According to the plan, there will be no fire engine or fire station at the port. The lifeboats and other equipment will be maintained at their current locations at the Administration Building on North Harbor Drive.

The current Police Department security system began in 2009 when the city disbanded its Port Police Department, which was a separate entity under the Port and Beaches Department.

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