Thursday, July 12, 2012
A rope barrier to protect harbor seals at the Children's Pool in La Jolla will not be reinstalled immediately, even though the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to have it up year-round, the office of Mayor Jerry Sanders said today.
The Coastal Commission on Wednesday approved an application by the city to put the rope up full-time for a three-year period. The commissioners also ordered the city to provide clear signage and develop a plan to monitor conditions at the Children's Pool and the effectiveness of the rope.
In the last few years, the rope has been up between Dec. 15 and May 15, when the seals are birthing and weaning their young. The barrier leaves a three-foot opening for people who are determined to go onto the beach.
Representatives of the mayor's office said the procedural next step is to send the issue back to the city's Planning Commission, which will consider a site development permit. Spokesman Darren Pudgil said that would happen "sometime before the end of the year.''
At Wednesday's commission meeting in Chula Vista, attorney Bryan Pease, who represents supporters of the seals, said people who went down to the beach engaged in harmful interaction with the marine mammals.
"What happens when the rope barrier is not up is people just keep getting closer and closer. They want to get their picture taken, they want to try petting a seal,'' Pease said.
The animal rights groups were 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 it over in the early 1990s.
The San Diego City Council voted to apply for a commission permit for the year-round rope in 2010.