La Jolla seal plan gets second look
Council panel to try again on April 5
After council committee members last week failed to come up a plan on how to manage La Jolla’s Children’s Pool, another meeting of the Natural Resources and Culture (NRC) Committee has been called for April 5.
Councilman Carl DeMaio, one of the four committee members, requested the second meeting a committee stalemated on two votes, one to close the Children’s Pool beach during the seal pupping season and second to create a task force to study the city’s options including turning the pool into a wildlife sanctuary. The meeting will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. in City Council Chambers.
“My hope is to prevent additional litigation by ensuring that proposals for changing the way the Children’s Pool is managed are presented with proper details — and subject to adequate legal review,” DeMaio said.
His memo called for a special hearing to examine how the city would implement three Children’s Pool beach management options: keeping the current rules for shared access to the beach, prohibiting the public to cross a protective rope during pupping season and prohibiting the public from entering the beach during pupping season.
Neither seal supporters nor beach-access proponents were pleased at the lack of action at the March 17 meeting.
Ellen Shively, president of La Jolla Friends of the Seals, wrote in an e-mail she was disappointed the NRC could not make a decision on the pupping season rope, which she said has been studied and debated by the communities for years.
Questioning why a seal management plan hasn’t been studied for the last nine months, Shively said, “I wished they would at least have given the vulnerable pups and moms some protection by closing the beach now and sending the decision to the legal department afterward. Soon it will be too late, and the seals will suffer under the current shared-use policy as they have for years.”
John Leek, who represents the San Diego Council of Divers, said the committee hearing was distinguished more by what was not dealt with than what was.
“The city was not given discretion to do whatever it wishes at Children’s Pool by the legislature,” he contended in an e-mail. “The seals’ welfare is not the issue. The city was not given an option to declare a marine mammal park — the state already declared it. The issue was whether San Diego should make it a crime to go on the beach before June, regardless of the presence of any seals.”
First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner has said that community review should be the first priority for any future plan prescribing Children’s Pool’s uses.
“We need to take some time and develop a management plan,” she said, adding the pupping season rope goes up every year in perpetuity from Dec. 15 to May 15. “That can’t be changed,” she said, adding the council has a resolution in force that “says the policy there is for joint use.”
During the March 17 hearing, Lightner said a long-term management plan protecting seals needs to be counterbalanced with preserving public access for beachgoers. She presented a “laundry list” of issues she’d like to see addressed by city staff with the pool including defining exactly what a marine mammal park is, determining the city’s legal obligations in managing it and assessing how city municipal codes and the pool’s trust status would be affected. She also wanted answers on how a newly created wildlife sanctuary would be enforced.
- Councilwoman calls for public input on La Jolla seal plan
- City to Judge: More Time Needed to Review Water Plan to Disperse Seals
- Plan outlines ways to disperse La Jolla seals
- Seal judge dismissed, hearing postponed
- Judge’s ruling clears way for seals to stay on La Jolla beach
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