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City Council Affirms Decision To Close Children’s Pool In La Jolla For Seal Pups

Above: A curious harbor seal pokes its head out from the among the kelp beds.

Without comment, the San Diego City Council on Monday voted 5-3 to affirm a previous decision to close the Children's Pool in La Jolla to people during harbor seal pupping season, which runs from Dec. 15 to May 15 each year.

The new regulation, if given final approval by the California Coastal Commission, 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. Seals moved into the area in the 1990s and have become the focus of a dispute between animal-rights supporters and beach-access advocates.

If the coastal commission approves, the new regulation will bar people from using the Children's Pool during seal breeding season. The city plans to install a chain across the stairway to the beach.

Council members Mark Kersey, Sherri Lightner and Scott Sherman cast the dissenting ballots. Lightner, who represents the area, fought the closure when it was first approved last month.

Opponents contend the seal population is exploding, and that they are not a threatened or endangered species. Supporters of the closure, however, said harbor seals require a sandy beach during pupping season, and cannot make use of nearby rocks like sea lions can.

City staff expects the coastal commission to take up the issue at a meeting in August. Commission staff supports the seasonal beach closure.

If approved by the commission at that time, the chain would be installed in time for the Dec. 15 closure.

Separately, the council members gave unanimous final approval to regulations that allow food trucks to operate legally throughout San Diego, and to rescind an increase in a fee on construction projects that helps fund affordable housing projects.

The trucks will be allowed to operate without a permit in industrial, commercial and high-density residential areas. The proposal generally prohibits them from low-density residential neighborhoods, parts of the restaurant-heavy Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy, streets near the beach and roadways close to the city's three major universities unless they obtain special events permits.

The regulations also set hours they can operate when they are 300 feet or closer to a residence. Not included is a minimum distance the trucks can be from a brick-and-mortar restaurant, because such a restriction would not be consistent with state law.

On the affordable housing fee, the council had voted 5-4 last fall to restore the levy to 1.5 percent of a building project's total cost, after it was halved in 1996.

However, opponents contended it would harm San Diego's business climate without doing much good for affordable housing. They collected more than enough signatures to qualify a referendum for the ballot, forcing the council to choose between a repeal or placing the issue to a public vote.

Business leaders, led by former Mayor Jerry Sanders, who now leads the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, promised at a previous meeting to help craft a plan to tackle the lack of low-cost housing in the city.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Califia'

Califia | March 18, 2014 at 2:08 p.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The City Council's plan to close the man made Children's Pool is as wrong a second time as it was three weeks ago in their first vote.

The majority of the City Council have lost their minds to an emotional propaganda campaign by the PETA crowd.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 18, 2014 at 2:55 p.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I cannot believe how utterly ridiculous this whole seal debacle has become. It angers and frustrates me to the core of my being. The pool is man made. Seals do not belong there, it is not their natural habitat. They can go have their d**m babies wherever they had them before 1930 when the sea wall was built. Give me a BREAK!! They are seals, they are filthy rats of the ocean. They are not endangered, they are nothing but shark food. They have made the entire are dangerous. The bacteria count is high, they attract sharks, and seals now crowed the whole area from the children's pool to the cave shop. They threaten anyone who attempts to snorkel along the base of the cliffs. These are 1-2000 pound animals. An encounter with a human would result in serious injury or death.

I am so tired of this that I want to tear the sea wall down. Take it away - restore the coastline to its natural form. Let the seals be swept away. Good riddance!! Leftist animal loving people are completely bonkers!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 18, 2014 at 10:12 p.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Council made the correct decision here, yet they pander to SeaWorld.

I guess animal rights are important to the council unless the abusers are paying the city $14 mil in rent.

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Avatar for user 'menigenburg'

menigenburg | March 19, 2014 at 7:28 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

You guys need to suck it up and deal with it. Go to another beach. There is plenty to go around. Leave the seals alone. ;o)

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | March 19, 2014 at 8:26 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

Demo the sea wall. Problem solved.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 19, 2014 at 8:58 a.m. ― 4 months, 1 week ago

menigenburg actually there are not plenty of other non-natural man made beaches created just for children.There are, on the other hand, plenty of natural beaches that the seals have been using for thousands of years. You seal lovers need to suck it up. They are pests.

sdreefer21 - I am with you on this. They should remove the wall.

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