Covid-19 forced the closures of San Luis Obispo County pools, but they are staying closed for different reasons.
County pools were closed during the pandemic, but budget cuts and a shortage of lifeguards are preventing them from re-opening this summer.
“It’s rough because I’m pretty sure it's going to get hotter and hotter and there's nowhere you can go to cool," said San Miguel resident Luis Lopez.
Lopez grew up swimming at the San Miguel Community Pool. His younger siblings and neighbors love it, too.
“This is our hangout spot,” Lopez said. “Every summer, we spend our time swimming here.”
This summer, their local pool is closed and so are surrounding ones in Shandon, Templeton, Santa Margarita, Cayucos, and Cambria.
6 San Luis Obispo County pools closed during the pandemic— but they are staying closed for other reasons. Find out why and how you can help tonight at 5/6p on @KSBY @SLOCountyParks pic.twitter.com/UKi6LCXfCo— Megan Healy (@MeganHealyTV) June 11, 2021
“I'd rather see kids coming here to the pool, swimming, doing activities, and jumping around inside the water, getting rid of their lonjas (belly fat) than going around town tagging up places or causing problems,” Lopez said.
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors slashed the yearly budget by $6 million, cutting funding to county pools.
However, not all hope is lost for summer fun.
“Two things really need to happen. We need to have the board restore the funding for the pools and we would need to have people be willing to be lifeguards and be willing to be trained rapidly,” said San Luis Obispo County Parks Director Nick Franco.
If the roughly $160,000 in funding for the pools is restored next week, then another challenge arises: hiring lifeguards before June 21.
“If we can get people who are willing to be lifeguards and who can pass the skills test and all that training and do that in a very short time and we have at least three but ideally six people per pool, we might be able to open by the end of July for a few weeks,” Franco said.
Franco is hoping to open at least one or two pools. If not, all pools will be ready by next summer.
“It's tough. Normally, we start recruiting in February, and that way, by Memorial Day we have lifeguards available who are trained and ready to go,” Franco said. “Trying to compress that into a couple of weeks is really, really difficult."
Discussions about the county budget are expected to begin on Monday. Franco said he expects the funding for pools to get approved, but then they have to onboard lifeguards quickly.
If you are interested in signing up to be a lifeguard at a county pool this summer, contact Michele Venturini at (805) 781-4385 or firstname.lastname@example.org.