Black’s Beach is well-known among Southern California surfers and residents, renowned for its powerful waves and secluded location beneath the soaring Torrey Pines bluffs. But while never short on strong breaks and spectacular scenery, there has been one thing that Black’s always lacked: Public restroom facilities. Now, thanks to the combined efforts of the Blacks Beach Foundation, the University of California, San Diego and City of San Diego Lifeguards, the popular surf spot has its first ever environmentally-friendly restroom facility.
“Black’s is such a special place,” said Victoria Fuller, a member of the Blacks Beach Foundation Board of Directors. “It’s a world-class surfing location that’s hard to get to, so when you walk there, it’s like walking into a different world. It’s like San Diego 50 years ago, such a tight-knit community.”
The Blacks Beach Foundation is the brainchild of longtime local surfers Sheldon Engelhorn and Ernest W. Hahn, II, who formed the idea one day while waiting to catch waves. They, along with other Black’s regulars such as Fuller, established the community foundation several years ago to give back to the beach they had all been surfing together for years. With an overarching goal of maintaining and improving Black’s, the foundation board determined that the top priority was a public restroom facility.
“It was an environmental, plus public health and safety issue, really,” said Hahn, chair of the Blacks Beach Foundation. “The nearest restroom facility was more than two miles away and not accessible during certain tides. We felt that working with UCSD to get a public restroom there would be a good way to improve the environment and make it better for everyone who uses the beach.”
Engelhorn, an alumnus and longtime supporter of UC San Diego, reached out to campus leadership. “This project was especially important to me because of the need for the beach, nearby residents, students, surfers and city lifeguards,” he said. “I was able to arrange a meeting with the appropriate campus staff and leadership and we were very pleased and grateful for their positive response to the restroom need.”
“Our goal was to create a facility that benefits everyone in our community,” said Gary C. Matthews, UC San Diego vice chancellor of Resource Management and Planning. “The UC San Diego Surf Team often practices at Black’s and many of our students like to walk down to the beach. We are pleased that we could help do our part to address a critical need.”
The facility was prefabricated in durable light weight concrete and features three restrooms – one of which is dedicated exclusively for lifeguard use – that are open from approximately sunrise to sunset daily. Every effort was made to minimize the impact of the facility on the environment: The structure was placed on the northwest side of the Black’s Beach lower asphalt lot to minimize view impacts; the color and material palette were selected for durability and their ability to blend with the local environment; and solar panels were placed on the roof to power low voltage lights and security cameras. Additionally, no terrain was altered for the installation. An existing steel container that housed lifeguards’ rescue gear was also replaced with a prefabricated storage unit that uses the same color and materials as the restroom.
“We are very grateful for the wonderful partnership we have with UC San Diego,” said Rick Wurts, chief of the City of San Diego Lifeguards, who are helping to fund maintenance of the facility. “The university is a tremendous supporter of public safety and the beach community. The new restroom facilities are another example of the strong leadership being provided to San Diego.”