For the next fiscal year, Huntington officials are also asking the guards union to consider a lower pension formula for new-hires, says Mike Beuerlein, a Huntington lifeguard supervisor and president of the California Surf Lifesaving Assn.
"I think that will be the trend up and down the coast," he says.
Kyle Lindo, Huntington's marine safety chief, says during his 25 years in the department he has seen lifeguards' budgets cut during tight times.
"It's almost as if it's the low-hanging fruit," he says.
Training, not tanning
Part of what makes them vulnerable, guards say, is that politicians don't fully understand their responsibilities or qualifications.
Year-round guards in Newport must have emergency medical technician certification, as do firefighters — an example, managers say, of the training that sets them apart from seasonal ocean lifeguards or pool or lake guards.