Beaches peachy, but jampacked | City’s parking lots full and closed about 9:15 a.m.

July 5, 2006 No Comments

Joe Hughes and Tanya Mannes. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Jul 5, 2006. pg. B.2

There were few patches of open sand at San Diego County beaches yesterday as several hundred thousand people took part in a cherished Independence Day ritual — relaxing near the sea.

“The sun, the water — it’s a tradition,” said Kelly Vitek, 24, of Clairemont as she sat in the shade at Windansea Beach in La Jolla. “You’ll find us here every holiday.”

City of San Diego beach lots were full and closed about 9:15 a.m., one of the earliest closures in memory, said San Diego police Lt. Jorge Duran.

The big crowds kept lifeguards hopping.

Lifeguard Lt. Greg Buchanan said 600 rescues were made at city beaches yesterday, which he described as a record for a July Fourth holiday.

Parking was so scarce at beaches yesterday that one Mission Boulevard resident was selling a private space for $100. At midday, there were countless motorists looking for a spot, but no takers at that price, police said.

Many people brought armloads of supplies — including picnic lunches, grills, radios, tents and volleyballs — for a full day of fun.

Vitek’s friend Jimmie Huffstutter, 24, arrived at 6:30 a.m. at the La Jolla beach to claim a swath of sand and raise six canopies for an expected 100 guests.

“It’s not as bad here as at Mission Beach, where all the tourists go,” he said. “But even here you won’t find a parking space for several blocks.”

Huffstutter said the group planned to stay until sunset.

In Del Mar, people found a way to get to the water’s edge despite a lack of parking.

“In years past, the scarce parking kept the crowds down,” said Del Mar city lifeguard Steve Nishiyama. “Now they are finding a way to get here. We have a big crowd.”

Police reported no crowd problems, but said there was at least one serious incident. At Mission Beach, a 24-year-old man who had been arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public ran into Mission Boulevard near Pacific Beach Drive about 5:30 p.m. and was struck by a car. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated for extensive head injuries. He was expected to survive, police said.

Throughout the day, lifeguards were kept on the move helping numerous swimmers make it to shore safely.

At San Diego beaches, where yesterday’s crowds were estimated at 633,000 people, there were about 350 rescues Saturday, 250 Sunday and 150 Monday, in addition to the 600 yesterday.

“It’s been a busy four days,” said lifeguard Lt. Nick Lerma.

Del Mar lifeguards also were busy, making 52 rescues by midafternoon yesterday, mostly because of rip currents.

The lifeguards there reported no problems, and only a scattering of citations based on the Del Mar beach alcohol ban. There were some confiscations of liquor, Nishiyama said.
[Illustration]
1 PIC; Caption: Cheek-by-jowl. Vastly overcrowded. Wall-to-wall humanity. Pick your own words for the mob scene at Pacific Beach yesterday. Officials estimated the crowds at San Diego beaches at 633,000 people, with 600 water rescues.; Credit: K.C. Alfred / Union-Tribune

Credit: STAFF WRITERS

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