At Tuesday's City Council meeting resident Roger Butow requested that the city appoint a pollution control officer, a new staff position that would monitor city beaches--particularly Aliso Beach, which has been closed 19 times in five years due to high levels of bacteria. His request drew no response from the council.
Newport Beach has a similar position--environmental safety officer--responsible for not only monitoring and investigating beach pollution but also ensuring that residents citywide abide by pollution laws, said Newport Beach Police Sgt. Mike McDermott. In an interview, McDermott recommended that, depending on the size of the agency and the resources available, other cities with ecologically sensitive environments, like Laguna Beach, create a similar staff member who can serve in a number of capacities.
In a related development, enforcement of Assembly Bill 411, which mandates daily pollution testing of beaches and requires that they be posted with warnings or closed on a daily basis, has been postponed until mid-May while local agencies review it. Assemblyman Howard Wayne (D-San Diego), who wrote the bill, said Wednesday that "unfortunately, this has delayed the public's right to know the safety of their own beaches."