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City Council: New Fire Chief Sworn In, White Cane Day and Special Events Approved

City Council Meeting October 17, 2017

Fire Chief Jim Lydon being sworn in to office by City Clerk Mary Clifford. Photo by Janine Zuniga.

With family, friends, and fire fighters in attendance, Jim Lydon was sworn in as Coronado’s Fire Chief.

The Marin County native was selected to head the department because of his expertise, previous experience as a fire chief, and better than average understanding of how municipal cooperation works,” said City Manager Blair King.

King reminded people that fire fighters don’t only fight fires. “Really the term fire department is a misnomer. The fire department trains to respond to every type of hazard one could imagine,” King said. ”It is always present and always responding to the citizens of Coronado 24/7/365.”

As chief, Lydon will oversee two fire houses and a central beach lifeguard facility. With a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science from Cogswell Polytechnic College, a masters degree from Gonzaga University, plus 40 years experience, Lydon appears well qualified to helm fire services here. His first public act after being sworn in was to invite residents to stop by the fire station and introduce themselves. “I appreciate the opportunity to be here in the City of Coronado,” Lydon said. “I feel honored to be selected. I’m excited to see the future.”

Coronado’s new Fire Chief Jim Lydon
Mayor Richard Bailey proclaims October 17 White Cane Day.

After swearing in the new chief and honoring the Lions Club of Coronado ahead of its annual White Cane Day, the council took up a number of routine matters, chief among them was setting the 2018 special events calendar where the most attention was given. This year there were 14 special event requests. The newest came with the promise that it wouldn’t be held for another century — 92118 Day (Friday, September 21, 2018).

Steve Johnson, resident and publisher of The Coronado Times proposed the “centennial” 92118 Day celebration. The inaugural event date matches the Coronado zip code (92118) – a date that won’t happen again for 100 years. Tentative plans call for the Coronado-centric event to take place along Ocean Boulevard where Flora Ave and Isabella Ave intersect Ocean Boulevard and the beach across from that section of street (see image below).

Johnson submitted a proposal that described the event as a community-building celebration complete with Coronado food vendors, Coronado live bands, and Coronado beach activities and friendly competitions (ex. volleyball, Spikeball, buoy swim, color run, sandcastle building and more). The event is meant for Coronado residents and local businesses to celebrate our community and to get outside to enjoy our beach together.

Steve Johnson explained more details of 92118 Day at the meeting.

After the meeting, Steve Johnson shared, “Getting residents outside to enjoy the beach with food, music and friendly competition is something I think has been missing in Coronado. What better way to enjoy a Friday afternoon/evening at the beach than with your neighbors? 92118 Day would only happen once every 100 years and would be geared towards residents during our very special ‘Second Summer.’ The plan is to keep it local and not market this ‘over the bridge’.”  Johnson went on to say, “I’ve partnered with the Islander Ladies Club (ILC) to oversee planning and execution of this event. The ILC events have been very successful and have raised tens of thousands of dollars for Coronado-based charities.”

Without approving specifics of the plan, the council voted 4-1 to schedule the 92118 Day event. Johnson’s proposal asked the City to help fund the event along with money collected from local donors and a percentage of profit collected from local vendors that participated in the event. Activities and costs will be discussed at a later meeting.

Councilman Whitney Benzian liked the 92118 Day concept. “I think it’s really neat and probably long overdue,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of beach events. We have one of the nicest beaches in the country. We don’t use it as a community as much as we should.”

“I agree to support it as place holder,” Councilman Mike Donovan said. “I don’t like the concept. It sounds to me like a big carnival on the beach.”

Councilwoman Carrie Downey opposed the event, not because she opposed the idea. She just thinks there are too many special events. “We started with eight events,” she said. Over the years organizations figure out that they could stage events here simply by promising to give a portion of the proceeds to a popular, local nonprofit.

The idea behind limiting the events to eight was to lesson the impact of these events on local residents. “People doing these events come early, take up parking and they don’t leave,” Downey said. She admits that she was part of the system that expanded the number, but now sees the wisdom of limit the number to eight. “It’s easier to say no,” she said.

She asked her colleagues to consider how the city benefited from each of these. If there was no net advantage, the council should say no. She also noted that many are run by professional organizations, who profit from holding them here. “We shouldn’t be holding these events to support business,” she said.

Bailey agreed with her sentiments, but pointed out that many of the events offer opportunities for residents. “When I participate [in the Valentine’s Day run] I see hundreds of other Coronado residents.” He also resisted her call to approve each event separately. Instead he crated a motion that included traditional events — the Fourth of July, Flower Show and ones that have become a tradition like Bike the Bay and the Valentine’s Day run. All were approved unanimously.

The council also agreed to discuss at a future meeting Councilman Mike Donovan’s call for salary adjustment ballot initiative, his and Mayor Richard Bailey’s request that the historical designation process be reviewed, and Bailey’s call for allowing unleashed dogs at selected city parks for a six month trial period.

Gloria Tierney
Gloria Tierney
A freelance writer in San Diego for more than 30 years. She has written for a number of national and international newspapers, including the Times of London, San Diego Tribune, Sierra Magazine, Reuters News Service and Patch.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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