Wednesday, June 30, 2010
SAN DIEGO A judge rejected a request today by an environmental group seeking to immediately get a rope barrier erected at the Children's Pool in La Jolla to protect the seals.
Earlier this month, Mayor Jerry Sanders denied a request from the San Diego City Council seeking a declaration that an emergency exists so the rope barrier can be immediately put up at the beach, and kept up year-round.
At the time, Sanders said there was no reason the request shouldn't go through the normal coastal permitting process, which could take three to six months.
In response, Bryan Pease, an attorney for the Animal Protection and Rescue League, filed a lawsuit in an effort to force Sanders to comply with the City Council's demands. At today's hearing, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Barton sided with Sanders.
"Judge Jeffrey Barton found, based on the evidence presented, the mayor did not abuse his discretion in refusing to declare an emergency for an emergency permit to put up the rope barrier at the Children's Pool,'' a statement from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's office read.
A rope barrier to separate people from seals is already in place at the beach during pupping season, which runs from December to May. The rope is taken down during the rest of the year.
In May, the City Council voted to approve a management plan for the Children's Pool that includes keeping the rope barrier up at the beach year-round, prohibit dogs and to hire a full-time park ranger to patrol the area.
The City Council also directed the City Attorney's Office to draft an ordinance that would prohibit beach access during seal-pupping season.
A colony of harbor seals that has taken up residence at the Children's Pool has sparked a nearly decade-long debate between those that want to preserve public access to the beach and others that want to protect the marine mammals.