Bronze lifeguard statue would be essence of OB
by Tony De Garate
Dec 19, 2012 | 4737 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Richard Arnold, who designed the Pointer mascot for Point Loma High School, has been commissioned to create a bronze lifeguard statue and memorial that backers hope will one day be placed in front of the Ocean Beach lifeguard station. Half of the needed funds have been raised for the $38,000 art creation.     Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
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When people consider the prospect of a bronze statue of a lifeguard to be placed south of the lifeguard tower on Abbott Street, former District 2 City Councilman Byron Wear knows what some people are thinking: here comes the Cardiff Kook, Ocean Beach style.

A lot of people said the Kook looked dorky for its flailing arms and lots of other reasons when it was erected off Highway 101 in 2007 with the title “Magic Carpet Ride,” and the San Diego Architectural Foundation subsequently dinged it with its dubious Onion award. There’s even an entire website that celebrates the pranksters who regularly depict the de-fenseless statue as Zorro, Uncle Sam or even a shark’s meal.

No biggie. Let OB be OB, said Wear, who served two terms on the San Diego City Council from 1995 to 2002, and served the city as a lifeguard lieutenant before that.

“If someone wants to put a hat or Hawaiian lei on him, whatever. That’s OB,” said Wear, who addressed the Ocean Beach Planning Board in support of the project at the board’s Dec. 5 meeting.

The statue, now nearly halfway toward reaching its $38,000 fundraising goal, will become another reason to find the community charming, he said.

“I think that’s art. That’s the way people will interact to it. You’re permitting people to be a part of it,” Wear said.

There will be telling differences between the lifeguard statue and his kooky colleague up the coast, Wear said. The Kook is 16 feet tall. The lifeguard will be life-size and eye level. While the Kook’s charm leans toward the campy, the lifeguard will be serious and thoughtful — more reminiscent of statues in Balboa Park that depict Kate Sessions and Alonzo Horton. The statue will face the ocean with a look of duty and purpose, Wear said.

As he spoke, Wear clutched a copy of “The Lifeguards” by Robert Baxley, an Ocean Beach surfer and lifeguard in the 1950s who went on to practice law and serve as a judge on the San Diego Superior Court. The book explains how San Diego’s Lifeguard Services began in the wake of a 1918 incident in which an Ocean Beach rip current claimed the lives of 13 Army servicemen.

“One of his (Baxley’s) visions was to honor the lifeguards and memorialize this tragedy,” Wear said.

Richard Arnold, who grew up in Ocean Beach and designed the Pointer mascot for Point Loma High School, has been commissioned for the artwork. The San Diego Arts and Cultural Commission will meet next month to consider the final design. The inspiration for the sculpture, Wear said, is the late Raymond “Skeeter” Malcolm, a lifeguard, diver and junior high school principal.

The San Diego Lifesaving Association is funding the sculpture and envisions a larger project to include landscaping and improved access that redirects pedestrians away from lifeguard vehicles — a site of many near accidents, Wear said.

OTHER OBPB NOTES

• The ship that serves coffee is sailing away. Pirate Cove coffee, a long-time fixture in the Apple Tree supermarket parking lot on Bacon Street, has to pull up its anchor when Apple Tree closes at the end of the year, owner Robert Domczyk told the board. The new location will be a parking lot in the 4900 block of Santa Monica Avenue on the east side of James Gang Printing, he said. It’ll be a new cart — the iconic ship won’t make the voyage because it lacks the number of required sinks, Domczyk said.

• Presidential campaigning may have ended last month, but preparations are under way for community elections on March 12. As usual, seven positions for two-year terms on the OBPB will appear on the ballot, but there may be a little more at stake this time around. To make elections more accessible and relevant, the board is considering the addition of advisory propositions or community referendums, as well as ways to increase voter turnout, like Internet and absentee balloting. The board will hash out these ideas when it next meets Jan. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave.

• Kevin Faulconer, who represents Ocean Beach and the rest of District 2 on the City Council, agrees with the OBPB that no more variances should be granted that allow property owners to build homes that exceed square-footage limits called for in city code. The board had appealed a city decision to allow a property owner in the 5100 block of West Point Loma Boulevard to build a three-story home larger than would have been allowed without the variance. The OBPB had unsuccessfully appealed three other projects in the block, which is dominated by a string of one-story duplexes. Faulconer was prepared to make a motion in support of the appeal, which was heard by the council Dec. 4, but allowed the applicant to withdraw the application.

“The zoning requirements … are what gives us the unique character of Ocean Beach,” Faulconer said in a statement read by his aide, Mike Patton. “...[T]he elected members of the Ocean Beach Planning Board oppose this development, and I stand behind them to preserve the unique character of OB.”

Said Jane Gawronski, OBPB chairwoman who presented the appeal before the City Council: “I think it’s the first time they’ve ever listened to us (on the issue).”

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