SOLANA BEACH — The streets of Solana Beach are now a little safer after City Council, at the April 14 meeting, unanimously allocated $10,000 — or slightly more if needed — from the undesignated reserve fund to reinstate the use a private security patrol until June 30,
the end of the current fiscal year.
Council members will discuss funding the program throughout the entire 2010-2011 fiscal year during upcoming budget reviews.
City efforts to deal with increasing incidents of vandalism and graffiti in parks after hours were only mildly successful. Law enforcement officers increased patrols in the problem areas, but their constant presence was cost prohibitive.
So two years ago, the city began using private security services on a trial basis. Because of limited funding, security guards originally patrolled city parks and community centers two nights a week during the summer.
The program proved to be successful and cost-effective, so the number of patrol nights was increased during the second year. In addition to a noticeable reduction in vandalism and graffiti when the guards were on duty, a negative outcome was observed when the patrols stopped, the staff report states.
Funds for the current program ran out at the end of February. City Manager David Ott said city staff recently noticed an increase in problems. Deputies were called to a house in the 800 block of Vera Street off Valley Avenue on March 7 after four people were stabbed in an apparent gang-related incident.
Use of the private security patrol also allows the city to leave public restrooms open longer.
Restrooms were previously only available during park hours, weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. To accommodate requests from residents such as early morning swimmers, bicyclists and joggers, it cost the city $68 per day to pay in-house staff to unlock the facilities earlier.
When staff was unavailable, the alternative was leaving the restrooms unlocked overnight and on weekends. The result was “heavy vandalism,” Ott said, and some people using the facilities for shelter.
Full funding for the program will cost the city $41,600 annually.