Public safety officials expect about 1.7 million people to spend time on San Diego’s beaches and bays over the July 4 holiday period. Crowds for the day itself are expected to reach 600,000.

That’s up from 1.4 million last year. Part of the reason for the increase is the fact that July 4 falls on a Wednesday this year, meaning officials expect the celebrations to last from Friday through July 8.

At a press conference in front of the Mission Beach lifeguard tower this morning, Mayor Jerry Sanders, police Chief William Lansdowne, lifeguard Chief Ken Hewitt and various other public safety officials announced their plans to keep the crowds in control and to address the issue of trash collection at city beaches, parks and streets. (Trust the mayor to call a press conference at the beach on a beautiful sunny morning as the city begins its work week.)

The Police Department plans to increase its staffing from June 29 to July 8 to above-normal staffing levels. The department will be setting up temporary divisions in various locations near the beaches over the holiday and officers will be patrolling on foot, bicycle, motorbike patrol cars, ATV, boat and by air. Plain-clothed police officers will also be mingling with the crowds.

“If you go to the beach and you drink alcohol, expect to be stopped by one of our officers,” said Capt. Boyd Long, whose northern division patrols some of San Diego’s busiest beaches.

There will be 180 lifeguards on duty every day from June 30 to July 30 and July 5 to July 8. On July 4, there will be 210 lifeguards on duty. Last July 4, Hewitt said, lifeguards made 1,284 rescues and took 8,648 preventative actions.

The city’s Park and Recreation Department will be ramping up trash collection efforts by providing hundreds of extra trash receptacles. Park and ecreation staff will be starting work at 5 a.m. during the July 4 holiday. They will be joined by volunteers from FreePB.org, a nonprofit organization, who will be handing out plastic refuse collection bags and setting up large cardboard boxes as extra trash containers.

WILL CARLESS

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