Key City Council committee advances funding for expanded lifeguard hours

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 5:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A key City Council committee approved a plan Wednesday to provide more than $500,000 for the city’s dawn to dusk lifeguard hours.

The city needs Council approval to transfer money it saved from vacant positions to hire 15 Ocean Safety contract workers.

“I do really believe in dawn to dusk. I really do believe it is essential. I do believe it will save lives,” said City Council Chair Tommy Waters.

“We’re talking about public safety. If we don’t have the money to do it, we should find ways to pay for it.”

But even with the additional money, the city said it can’t staff all of its lifeguard towers from dawn to dusk. It has to use mobile units to cover some stretches of beaches.

“It gives a false sense of security to residents and visitors in our beaches,” said City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

The city said staffing all the towers from dusk to dawn will be too expensive.

“A massive influx of employees and the personnel and equipment would be a detrimental thing to the budget,” said Ian Santee, deputy director of the city Department of Emergency Services.

Council Budget Chair Calvin Say said the city doesn’t have enough money for the expanded hours.

“I’m saying don’t give anything. That’s why I say repeal dawn to dusk,” he said.

In the end, the committee kept the request alive sending it to further hearings.

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