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Lifeguards Pose Solution For Children’s Pool

Evening Edition

Lifeguard Sgt. Ed Harris, a spokesman for the lifeguards union, tells KPBS about their plan for the La Jolla Children's Pool.

Aired 7/5/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guest: Ed Harris, spokesman, San Diego Lifeguards union


An image of how the boulders at the Children's Pool would be arranged in the ...
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Above: An image of how the boulders at the Children's Pool would be arranged in the summer months.

San Diego's lifeguards, who have remained neutral in the territorial battle between people and seals at the La Jolla Children's Pool, have come up with an idea they say will protect both animals and humans without blocking anyone's access to the beach.

Lifeguard Sgt. Ed Harris, a spokesman for the lifeguards' union, told KPBS the plan involves a moveable barrier made of boulders.

He said seals enjoy the beach more in the winter, but don’t like it as much in the summer. The reverse, of course, is true for humans.

Because of this, Harris said the seals only need a small portion of the beach in the summer. The lifeguards' idea is to use boulders to section off 25 percent of the beach for the seals in the summer months. In the winter, the boulders can be removed to give seals full access to the beach.

A wall of boulders, he hopes, will send a stronger message to people on the beach to leave the seals alone. He said the current barrier, a rope, can too easily be crossed.

Harris said lifeguards would use existing city equipment to move the boulders, so costs would be minimal. He added that lifeguards can also use equipment to clean the sand of seal feces - a task he considers necessary but said is not being done now.

Harris said the lifeguards are tired of seeing the confrontations between seal activists and beachgoers. He said he has seen seal activists yell at tourists and children.

“No one has a right to make kids cry,” he said.

Harris said he also sees "naïve people" trying to pet the seals.

The lifeguards brought their proposal to La Jolla Community Planning Board Thursday. The California Coastal Commission will hear the plan for a rope to protect the seals next week, but Harris said he hopes the lifeguards' plan will provide a better alternative for the commission to consider.

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Avatar for user 'Frankie'

Frankie | July 6, 2012 at 10:58 a.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

First of all, Ed Harris is another well-intentioned interventionist who cannot speak for the Lifeguards or for the City -- a point he made explicitly clear when presenting this idea to the La Jolla Parks and Beaches committee. Secondly, his idea is preposterous. Moving boulders around on the beach seasonally? Bulldozing sand for an annual "cleaning?" Ridiculous and profoundly intrusive.

Understandably, Harris does not like mediating conflicts among seal-lovers and divers at the Children's Pool site. But he should tend to the more pressing issue of getting the eyesore temporary pipe-and-plastic Lifeguard station off the sidewalk at Coast Blvd. and continue to focus on the safety of folks in the water.

It should be noted that Coastal Commission staff has opined in favor of a "year-round rope" to protect people and seals from each other on the sand. That's what's up for consideration at the meeting next week.

In fact,the first untoward human intervention occurred long ago when a well-intentioned and misguided benefactress paid for construction of a seawall at the so-called Children's Pool. That act has led to today's literal and figurative mess at the site.

If the City Council and Mayor had an ounce of courage or independence, they would agree it is imperative to open the sluice gates in the seawall to clean the beach with tidal flows or raze the wall entirely and return the shoreline landscape to it original form. The seals would still haul out on nearby rocks or occasionally on the sand, but they would no longer cause the environmental and social mess that now exists.

Today the beach is filthy; the water is polluted with unhealthy bacteria; seals and humans come into too-close contact endangering both species; everyone quarrels over beach access on the sidewalk and now, even fed-up Lifeguards are getting in on the act.

There is an answer here, but Ed Harris' boulders and backhoes are not it. City Council and the Mayor should act in common to remedy what has become an intractable civic and environmental problem.

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Avatar for user 'SusanDMedak'

SusanDMedak | July 6, 2012 at 11:35 a.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

The seals should not be encouraged to settle at the children's pool. The area is not designed for that. The seals are contaminating the contained area which is not good for the seals or for humans. The increase in seal population has devastated the fish and plant life in the ocean near by and created an attraction for sharks to find a food supply. Just a few feet to the north there are lots of seals enjoying the rocky coastline that is difficult for humans to access, this is safer for all life above and under the ocean surface.

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