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Beach Access At Children’s Pool In La Jolla Goes Before Council

Above: Seals sun bathe at Children's Pool beach in La Jolla.

The San Diego City Council is scheduled this afternoon 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 beachgoers 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.

The La Jolla Community Planning Association voted 9-6-1 at a meeting in January to reject the proposed ban. Area residents have never supported a seasonal beach closure, said Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who contends that the rope barrier has been an effective deterrent.

"The reality is that in recent years the harbor seal, sea lion and shorebird populations have dramatically exploded up and down the coastline," Lightner said.

"The city needs to follow suit of other California municipalities, and put into place a comprehensive Coastal Management Plan to deal with protection of public beach access as well as health, safety and environmental issues caused by the proliferation of marine mammals along San Diego's 23-mile shoreline."

She said she plans to ask for funding for such a plan in the next budget cycle.

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.

Comments

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | February 24, 2014 at 11:38 a.m. ― 10 months, 1 week ago

Designating it an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area is a solid step forward.

Protecting sensitive coastal habitat is a priority and the City Council should act accordingly and follow the law as set in the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The MMPA defines harassment as:

"Any act of pursuit, torment or annoyance which has the potential to either: a. injure a marine mammal in the wild, or b. disturb a marine mammal by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering."

This is a clear cut decision for the City Council. The seals must be protected.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | February 24, 2014 at 12:09 p.m. ― 10 months, 1 week ago

Why must the seals be protected? The children must be protected, that is why we built the sea wall to create an artificial cove. The seals can go anywhere along the coast. Where did they go before the sea wall was built? They can go back there.

The seals have overrun the area and made the water dangerous with bacteria and they attract great white sharks. They also threaten swimmers around the whole area. It is no longer possible to swim along the cliffs north of the cove because the seal population has exploded unnaturally.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 24, 2014 at 2:36 p.m. ― 10 months, 1 week ago

JeanMarc: "The children must be protected"

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Protected from what?

Protected from the joy on their faces when they come to the cove to watch the seals?

Protected from not being able to swim in one small area of the miles and miles of coastline our city offers that is open to human swimming?

I'll tell you who the children need to be protected from: They need to be protected from the creepy old cranks pushing for this ridiculous "children's pool" idea so they can relive their bygone nostalgia.

No child gives a seals rear end if they can swim here or not, it's these old kooky psychos who swam there decades ago who are pushing this and disingenuously saying it's for the "children".

This area needs to be permanently left as a seal sanctuary and this old myth about some rich old lady owning the beach in the 1800s or whatever and writing on a piece of parchment that has no legal validity that it should be a "pool for children" needs to be abandoned.

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