Good news: Some California city lifeguards making more than $200,000 a year

posted at 5:43 pm on May 11, 2011 by Allahpundit

Once we’re done paying off America’s unfunded entitlement liabilities by taxing the inexhaustible supply of wealth known as “the rich,” I hope we’ll think of the poor lifeguards trying to get by on only $120-130,000 a year. There’s no budget crunch so bad that a surcharge can’t undo its worst injustices. A Cadillac in every ersatz Hasselhoff’s driveway — that’s my motto.

Alternate headline: “Blogger resolves to finally learn how to swim.”

In a phone conversation, Brent Jacobsen, president of the Lifeguard Management Association, defended the lifeguard pay in Newport Beach: “We have negotiated very fair and very reasonable salaries in conjunction with comparable positions and other cities up and down the coast.” “Lifeguard salaries here are well within the norm of other city employees.” And therein is the problem: Local public worker pay has become all too generous and out of line with private sector equivalents.

On face, the compensation packages for these guards are staggering. But take into consideration the retirement benefits being paid to currently retired lifeguards and lifeguards who will retire at these pay levels in the future and the problem is further compounded. Lifeguards are able to retire with 90 percent of their salary, after only 30 years of work at as early as the age of 50.

If you’re wondering how this system is sustainable, it isn’t. Via Moe Lane, the downsizing has already begun, replete with media/union laments about all the new drownings that will assuredly ensue unless Newport Beach finds a way to maintain its current lifeguard staff in the luxury to which they’re accustomed. Dig deep, Californians.


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“Blogger resolves to finally learn how to swim.”

crap, Allah went Metro-Watch!

upinak on May 11, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Part of me laughs about this, because obviously being a lifeguard in California, is an attraction. So, not only do they save lives, but they bring people to the beaches, they are the face of California beaches, so I can see why they would be paid well, also the cost of living is high in California, but I am sure they make more than police, and that is sad.

WoosterOh on May 11, 2011 at 5:47 PM

How many 50+ year old lifeguards do you see outside of a Baywatch reunion?

teke184 on May 11, 2011 at 5:47 PM

California seems to be trying to race Greece to its own fiscal doom.

fiatboomer on May 11, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Maybe they can get Pam Anderson and Hasselhoff back!..:)

Dire Straits on May 11, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Don’t they deserve it though? This is peanuts compared to what David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson were pulling down.

jp on May 11, 2011 at 5:49 PM

The only difference between California and the Titanic is that the people on the Titanic didn’t actually vote to hit the iceberg.

NickDeringer on May 11, 2011 at 5:51 PM

-1 for Allah, he missed a golden opportunity to put up a pick of Pamela Anderson in a red bathingsuit from 90′s on the homepage.

jp on May 11, 2011 at 5:51 PM

And if you’re wondering why the lifeguards didn’t decide to accept pay cuts rather than risk layoffs, well, it’s our friend Collective Bargaining again.

Government employees should not be unionized. period.

pedestrian on May 11, 2011 at 5:52 PM

The guys doing the actual work of being a lifeguard on the beach, aren’t being paid this. The mafia guys back at the office are getting this kind of money.

sharrukin on May 11, 2011 at 5:54 PM

-1 for Allah, he missed a golden opportunity to put up a pick of Pamela Anderson in a red bathingsuit from 90′s on the homepage.

jp on May 11, 2011 at 5:51 PM

AP is Pam Anderson perhaps?

catmman on May 11, 2011 at 5:55 PM

This is what the public employee unions have wrought throughout the nation. To support dues that fund political campaigns from a ever decreasing pool of workers, these worker benefits must necessarily become more and more outrageous! Its the scam of a lifetime that Scott Walker, God bless him, was able to defeat in Wisconsin, but must be ended nationwide if we are to avoid going bankrupt as a nation.

milemarker2020 on May 11, 2011 at 5:56 PM

California continues is journey down the whirlpool circling the drain.

karenhasfreedom on May 11, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Don’t they deserve it though? This is peanuts compared to what David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson were pulling down.

jp on May 11, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Don’t laugh there were commenters under the article trying to defend those salaries on those grounds, saying that baseball and football players are paid more.

My favorite was the guy who tried to gin up sympathy by saying that it’s tough being a lifeguard, you have to work four 10 hour days a week. That’s a 40 hour a week job-I mean can you imagine, having to work 40 hours a week?

Dreadnought on May 11, 2011 at 5:57 PM

I thought you hypocrites were pro-life?

/end typical Dem hack response.

ninjapirate on May 11, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Well, hey…I’m certified, and a SCUBA diver to boot. Forget Florida, I should go to Cali!

Alternate headline: “Blogger resolves to finally learn how to swim.”

Oh, AP…we gotta get you out more. ;)

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Being buff and willing to dive into occasionally shark infested waters (ok, ok) does have a certain panache. Is it worth $200k?

I can think of plenty of people who make that much and far more who are truly disgusting.

Anyway, it’s California. What can you expect but the absurd?

Cody1991 on May 11, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Wow! That’s pretty amazing for a job done by high school and college students on summer break.

Dee2008 on May 11, 2011 at 6:02 PM

AP is Pam Anderson perhaps?

catmman on May 11, 2011 at 5:55 PM

just typical beta male behavior, not thinking of Pam Anderson in her prime and all.

I guess I should just be glad he didn’t put a picture of The Hoff on the home page and not complain….or perhaps AP is The Hoff? Would explain alot.

jp on May 11, 2011 at 6:03 PM

I thought you hypocrites were pro-life?

/end typical Dem hack response.

ninjapirate on May 11, 2011 at 6:00 PM

It’s a very Republican place. I would bet Dems won’t be the ones defending this.

lexhamfox on May 11, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Hmmm… According to an education website:

Salaries in Newport Beach (2008)

EMT: $37,000
Paramedic: $45,000
Fire Fighter/Paramedic: $54,000

Something is wrong here.

Fallon on May 11, 2011 at 6:06 PM

AP – finally unmasked?

catmman on May 11, 2011 at 6:06 PM

Fallon on May 11, 2011 at 6:06 PM

how can an EMT survive on $37k in Newport Beach i wonder? Isn’t this one of the most expensive places in country?

jp on May 11, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Dang! And the guys in the shark costumes swimming offshore to draw in more tourist dollars only get scale!

profitsbeard on May 11, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Bring back The Hoff!!

vcferlita on May 11, 2011 at 6:10 PM

“Blogger resolves to finally learn how to swim.”

This reminds me of the episode of The Sopranos where his Russian mistress is on his boat wearing floaties.

Blake on May 11, 2011 at 6:10 PM

It’s the ultimate beta male job!!!

taney71 on May 11, 2011 at 6:12 PM

how can an EMT survive on $37k in Newport Beach i wonder? Isn’t this one of the most expensive places in country?

jp on May 11, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Maybe, they work as lifeguards on their days off?

Fallon on May 11, 2011 at 6:16 PM

Actually, this is one of those situations to be calm about. It helps to live in SOCAL and understand what the deal is with Newport Beach. It’s a community of colossal wealth, and it pays for these lifeguards with its own local residents’ tax money.

As a California taxpayer, I’d be up in arms if my state taxes were going to bail out Newport Beach while it spends extravagantly on lifeguard salaries.

But they’re not. Newport Beach pays its own way. If Orange County wants to duke it out with the city over the use of property tax revenues collected by the county and distributed to Newport Beach, that’s up to those authorities. But Newport Beach is a net donor to the OC, so it’s not starving other communities in the county with its lifeguard salaries.

The city is also a net donor to California. The state has been raiding its reserve funds for years.

With the economy hitting even Newport Beach, the city is letting lifeguards go, and that’s probably not the best approach. But Newport Beach isn’t abusing my tax dollars with its decisions on this matter. I’m willing to let its citizens work this out.

J.E. Dyer on May 11, 2011 at 6:17 PM

As I noted in the Headline thread, I saw a classified yesterday from the County of Kaua’i in the 50th State, looking for lifeguards for that beautiful island.

They are offering $12 an hour.

Del Dolemonte on May 11, 2011 at 6:23 PM

I’ve only been to Florida beaches over the last 20 years. I haven’t seen one life guard on a beach during that time span. Not one. Either Floridians are better swimmers, or Florida just doesn’t give a hoot if you drown. Whatever…

joejm65 on May 11, 2011 at 6:23 PM

I actually know all of these guys. They actually all do perform actual lifeguarding and do not just sit around. Newport Beach is one of the most dangerous beaches due to riptides and waves. There are only 2 that make over $200,000 and most of the other lifeguards are not happy with it. These guys have been working for Newport Beach for many years and know the beach. They earn every penny. Most of them cannot afford to live in Newport Beach even on that salary. I’m against high salaries for public employees except in the case of public safety officers.

JackofNoTrades on May 11, 2011 at 6:34 PM

The only difference between California and the Titanic is that the people on the Titanic didn’t actually vote to hit the iceberg.

NickDeringer on May 11, 2011 at 5:51 PM

And after they hit it , they didn’t think it would be a good idea to hit it again.

the_nile on May 11, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Why would the show even allow him on but to get creepy publicity?

Blake on May 11, 2011 at 6:39 PM

I’ve only been to Florida beaches over the last 20 years. I haven’t seen one life guard on a beach during that time span. Not one. Either Floridians are better swimmers, or Florida just doesn’t give a hoot if you drown. Whatever…

joejm65 on May 11, 2011 at 6:23 PM

There are plenty of lifeguards on Florida beaches. They just built a big new $450,000 life guard station on Clearwater beach that made the news during construction because the second floor was required to be handicap accessible despite it only being used by life guards… No waiver was granted.

jonknee on May 11, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Whoops! Wrong thread!

Blake on May 11, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Wow! That’s pretty amazing for a job done by high school and college students on summer break.

Dee2008 on May 11, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Yeah, but they’re not union.

98ZJUSMC on May 11, 2011 at 6:42 PM

but I am sure they make more than police, and that is sad.

WoosterOh on May 11, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Don’t cry for the poor policeman too much.


Costa Mesa police officer — including salary, overtime, health care and retirement benefits — costs the city $172,000 a year.

angryed on May 11, 2011 at 6:50 PM

California lifegaurds are worth every penny!

surfer girl on May 11, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Really dude, this is so gnarly!

slickwillie2001 on May 11, 2011 at 6:54 PM

They actually all do perform actual lifeguarding and do not just sit around.

So what about the commenter in the headlines who claimed these were administrators, not lifeguards?

Newport Beach is a net donor to the OC, so it’s not starving other communities in the county with its lifeguard salaries.

Fair point. But California is a net donor to the feds — by a big margin — yet everyone here complains at every little fiscally liberal thing that happens here. “Net donor” isn’t justification for doing something wrong. And, as I said in the headlines, that sentiment would carry more weight (a) if there was a strict separation between city, county, and state funds, rather than each getting funds from the other and (b) if this weren’t happening in a county that went bankrupt in 1994. Sure, that was due to appalling investment choices, but you’d hope they might learn some fiscal lessons from it.

As far as it expensive to live there, if you’re working a job that requires months rather than years of training, then the price you pay for that is often living a couple of miles inland where living costs are more reasonable. Unlike Northern California, in Southern California, a few miles makes a huge difference in home prices.

calbear on May 11, 2011 at 6:55 PM

You guys are really underestimating how much a California government employee makes. Just no idea at all:

http://lgcr.sco.ca.gov/

Apologetic California on May 11, 2011 at 6:59 PM

the downsizing has already begun

You mean the drownsizing.

John the Libertarian on May 11, 2011 at 7:19 PM

Drat and double drat… I did some life-guarding as a high schooler (here in Jersey)… I never thought of it as a career possibility. Guess I should’a gone west as a young man.
-

RalphyBoy on May 11, 2011 at 7:48 PM

I actually know all of these guys. They actually all do perform actual lifeguarding and do not just sit around. Newport Beach is one of the most dangerous beaches due to riptides and waves. There are only 2 that make over $200,000 and most of the other lifeguards are not happy with it. These guys have been working for Newport Beach for many years and know the beach. They earn every penny. Most of them cannot afford to live in Newport Beach even on that salary. I’m against high salaries for public employees except in the case of public safety officers.

JackofNoTrades on May 11, 2011 at 6:34 PM

Do you have any statistics that show how “dangerous” the Newport Beach beaches actually are? How many drownings a year, how many injuries, etc? All I could find in a quick Google search was that a body surfer was killed at “The Wedge” in 2009. The article quoted a chief lifeguard there, who said this

“I can’t recall the last one,” said Turner, who has spent a career protecting people from the ocean. “The last fatality there was maybe 20 years ago.”

The article also mentions another beach, the one at Newport Pier, but gives no statistics.

Meanwhile, Kaua’i, which is a relatively tiny island, (55,000 people) averages 6 drownings a year. And only pay their lifeguards $12 an hour.

Del Dolemonte on May 11, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Years ago I was a lifeguard in Ca, and I taught the WSI (water safety instructors)courses, and taught the WSI trainers…and I did not make but 9 bucks an hour, great money than, and the…ahem…benefits were the best.

right2bright on May 11, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Del Dolemonte on May 11, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Along Newport Beach, the drop off is severe, but thousands visit the beach every day during the summer, the wedge is exceptional, and only on certain days is there a shore break of around 12 to 15′. They only allow experienced swimmers in. The shore break is so severe that few if any ride boards. Along Huntington Beach tens of thousands visit every day.
The fact is, a lot of rip currents, but few tragedies/deaths because of the exceptional training of the lifeguards.
Along with that, they have all the enforcement powers of a police officer, and the responsibilities that go along with it…added to watching a bunch of 909′rs being swept out to sea.
A lifeguard could easily rescue a couple of dozen people every day.

right2bright on May 11, 2011 at 9:32 PM

Sure they save your kid’s life and you don’t care what the heck they make. But getting real for a second (and if everyone whose kid’s life has been saved by a lifeguard could step out of the room for a minute)…OK. They work to 50 and live to 90. That means they will have received these 90 percent pensions (and health care) for one third MORE time as retirees than they were getting paid to “work” on their tans. Granted having a lot of 60-plus-year-old lifeguards out there would not inspire confidence, but years from now if you wonder why some leathery nonagenarian rolls up to you and calls you “sucker” this will be the reason.

curved space on May 11, 2011 at 9:34 PM

I can’t believe that there are people here actually trying to defend 200,000.salaries for lifeguards.

Tink on May 11, 2011 at 10:50 PM

As a member of the California Air National Guard I am now wondering why my pay is nowhere near what these people get? I mean, if lifeguards get this much for being at the beach for work while I go to Afghanistan for 3 months or so every 1.5 years I think I should be getting some kind of percentage of that. Maybe not 200k, but a percentage.

CTDeLude on May 11, 2011 at 11:42 PM

I’m against high salaries for public employees except in the case of public safety officers.

JackofNoTrades on May 11, 2011 at 6:34 PM

Explain then, undeclared liberal, how a system which pays lifeguards $200,000 a year plus a pension at age 50 is paid for. How and by whom?

Just because you “know all of them” doesn’t suddenly make this logical; if it was, then all cops and firemen would get the same deal. Think.

Jaibones on May 12, 2011 at 6:49 AM

Lifeguards there start at $10/hour. Lifeguard 1 max is $38k/year, Lifeguard 2 max is $42k/year. This article is intentionally misleading.
You can go to the city website and see their salary scheds for all to see. He’s quoting upper management salaries, not guys on the towers watching the ladies walk by.

National lifeguard salary info:
Compensation

The annual salary for beach lifeguards was $34,000, according to Indeed in January 2010. Those with more than 20 years of experience may earn up to $70,000 in a supervisory role.

This reporter was REALLY sloppy.

RW Wacko on May 12, 2011 at 8:22 AM

If you’re wondering how this system is sustainable, it isn’t.

Ah, so they’re playing with tax payer dollars that they can’t afford? Gee, whatever happened to the guy in the headline thread accusing us all of being jealous little liberals?

Esthier on May 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM

No need for all of this debating. The way to determine if the wage is adequate is to competitively bid the beach lifeguarding to a private company.

It will then advertise the open positions at, say, $100,000 a year with normal private sector benefits and see what the application pool looks like. Presumably current guards would be rehired because they have the best qualifications.

secant on May 12, 2011 at 1:13 PM