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Calif. Senate Votes to Give City Control of Children’s Pool

— The state Senate voted 30-4 today to approve legislation aimed at blocking the court-ordered removal of a colony of harbor seals from Children's Pool in La Jolla.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, would amend a 1931 trust, which designated the beach as a bathing area for children, to also allow for a marine mammal habitat.

It now moves to the Assembly.

In February, the San Diego City Council voted to ask Kehoe to draft the bill in an effort to end costly lawsuits over the colony of harbor seals that have occupied the beach in recent years.

Children's Pool, also known as Casa Beach, is protected by a sea wall built through a gift by the late philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. The beach was given to the city on the condition that it maintain it exclusively as a public park and children's swimming area.

A Superior Court judge in 2005 ordered San Diego to restore the Children's Pool to its "pre-seal" condition by dredging the beach to reduce the bacteria levels caused by seal excrement.

The judge also ordered the city to take down a rope that separates the seals from visitors during pupping season.

The ruling was challenged by the Animal Protection and Rescue League and La Jolla Friends of the Seals, which was successful in convincing a federal judge to allow the rope barrier to be reinstalled at the Children's Pool.

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