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Council Mulls Closing Children's Pool During Harbor Seal Pupping Season

A curious harbor seal pokes its head out from the among the kelp beds.
Photo by Mike Baird
A curious harbor seal pokes its head out from the among the kelp beds.

The latest proposal for the Children's Pool in La Jolla -- to prohibit people from going onto the beach during harbor seal pupping season -- is scheduled to be considered by the San Diego City Council next week.

The beach ban would be in effect from between Dec. 15 and May 15, when the seals are birthing and weaning their young. According to city documents, the move is the next step in protecting the seals because people are continuing to harass them.

The city has already erected a rope that's now up year-round to discourage people from going down to the beach, but it leaves a three-foot opening to allow access.


The city documents say the rope has "not completely resolved inappropriate interactions between seals and citizens," and people continually are chasing the seals into the water.

In March, then-Mayor Bob Filner issued an emergency order to close the beach at night to stop animal abuse that was caught on videotape.

Besides the rope, the city has installed signs asking people to leave the seals alone.

The presence of the marine mammals has been a lightning rod in the area for two decades, pitting beach access advocates against those who support animal rights. The Children's Pool was deeded to the city in 1931 as a safe area for kids to swim.

The City Council will be asked at Tuesday afternoon's meeting to designate the beach as an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area, a regulatory step needed to close the beach to people.


The documents say protection of fragile coastal resources trumps public beach access in state law, and the California Coastal Commission staff supports the proposed closure.