Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The California Coastal Commission on Wednesday unanimously voted to keep a rope barrier designed to protect harbor seals up year-round at the Children's Pool in La Jolla.
The city of San Diego applied to the commission to keep the barrier up year-round to discourage visitors from annoying the seals that took over the beach a couple of decades ago. The barrier is currently up for six months - from December to May - when the marine mammals are giving birth and weaning their young.
Animal rights groups contend that seals harassed by people return to the water, sometimes abandoning their offspring.
The rope, which leaves a three-foot opening, is designed to discourage people from going onto the beach, not prevent them from doing so.
The animal rights groups are opposed by beach access advocates, who want the beach returned to its original use, as a safe swimming area for children. The beach was deeded to the city in 1931, but the seals began to take over in the early 1990s.
Coastal Commission staff recommended approval of the city's application for a three-year term, providing the city develops a plan to monitor conditions at the Children's Pool and submits annual reports on how many seals use the pool and the effectiveness of the rope.
The San Diego City Council voted to apply for a commission permit for the year-round rope in 2010.