Council Debates La Jolla Beach Ban As Harbor Seal Pupping Season Nears
Thursday, February 20, 2014
The San Diego City Council on Monday is scheduled to consider whether to prohibit people from venturing down to the beach at the Children's Pool during harbor seal pupping season.
The proposal would be far more restrictive than the current rope barrier, which is designed to discourage beach-goers from disturbing marine mammals at the scenic La Jolla facility.
The Children's Pool was deeded to the city in the 1930s to be a safe swimming spot for youngsters. However, the seals began to take over the area in the 1990s, creating a standoff between beach access advocates and supporters of animal rights.
Clashes between the two sides have been common, and backers of the seals contend the animals have been abused at times.
Municipal and other laws against animal abuse have not prevented harassment of the seals, according to a city staff report to be delivered at Monday's meeting.
"These regulations and guidelines have not completely resolved inappropriate interactions between seals and citizens or interactions between citizens of different perspectives on the Children's Pool issues," the report states. "Due to people continually flushing the seals and other documented inappropriate interactions between seals and people, closing the beach during pupping season is the next step in an adaptive management strategy for human/seal (pinniped) beach sharing."
The report calls the action "the minimum step" in preventing the harassment of seals.
The proposal to be heard Monday would bar people from using the Children's Pool from Dec. 15 to May 15 each year, when the seals are giving birth and weaning their young.
"That is something the council has generally been supportive of in recent years," interim San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said at his weekly media briefing.
Gloria is doubling as the City Council president until Councilman Kevin Faulconer is inaugurated on March 3.
The La Jolla Community Planning Association voted 9-6-1 to reject the proposed ban at a meeting in January.
The new restrictions, if approved, would not take effect until given the go-ahead by the California Coastal Commission -- a process that could take one year. The report from city staff says their counterparts at the commission support the seasonal beach closure.