Life at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool: Two views


Editor’s note: On two weekends in September, the Light had staff writer Dave Schwab and freelance photographer Greg Nelsen check in at the Children’s Pool to see what goes on during a typical day at the beach. Nelsen started his day before dawn on a late September Saturday and was there for most of the day with the exception of a midday break. Schwab was there a week earlier. Here are Schwab’s words and Nelsen’s photos.

By Dave Schwab
Staff Writer

Lots of people hang out at Children’s Pool in La Jolla on weekends: sightseers and beachgoers, tourists and recreationalists, wildlife enthusiasts and passersby.

They were all there on Sept. 18, including, as usual — with those favoring the seals and those who want beachgoers to have shared access seated at tables passing out literature detailing their respective positions.

On this particular Saturday, La Jollan Patti Buchanan and a lady who would only identify herself as Marie, were chatting on the sidewalk near the lifeguard tower overlooking the beach. Nearby Marie had set up a table surrounded by signs indicating the public has access to the beach.

“I’m affiliated with Friends of the Children’s Pool, the diver’s and swimmer’s community,” said Marie. “I’ve been coming to the pool since summer.”

“I’m down here every day — I’m independent,” proclaimed Buchanan proudly, noting she’s protective of seals on the beach but is not in favor of the rope barrier being up. “There needs to be a docent program on the beach and a ranger on the beach during daylight hours especially to inform people on what they can’t do,” she said. “A single rope down there that says nothing without people down there to educate people is meaningless.”

While the two women were standing there near the stairs leading down to the beach, surfer Micah Clothier of Oceanside got in on the conversation.

“You’re for people going on the beach?” he asked.

“I’m for public access if you don’t disturb the seals,” Buchanan said. “If you disturb the seals — I’m not for you going down there.”

Buchanan, who claims she counts seals at Children’s Pool every single morning, noted there were 127 there early that morning.

At 10:30 a.m., none were on the beach and just a couple were on one rock a short distance offshore.

Down on the beach a brightly colored umbrella stuck out of the sand, put there by Marie to let people know it’s OK to go on the beach.

“If it’s not there they feel intimidated,” she said. “I wait until the seals are gone until I put it down there.”

Sandwiched in between two pro-beach access tables was Michael Hawkins of Seal Watch San Diego, which is aligned with the Animal Protection & Rescue League. Manning a table with stuffed-animal seals and T-shirts on it, he said, “As a public educator it’s my job to be the voice for the seals.”

Hawkins said seal watching at Children’s Pool is unique.

“There’s nothing like this in the United States: We’re in an urban area, and we’re also at a seal rookery. Most people in this day and age are very far removed from nature.”

Hawkins added that he thinks there will always be conflict at Children’s Pool between pro-seal and pro-beach access advocates because their views are so at odds.

“I’ve seen people almost get in fistfights in front of me because of this,” he said, adding cooler heads nearly always prevail with people agreeing to disagree.

Passing by Hawkins’ table was Aroun Ram, his wife and two children, one in a stroller. Asked whether he’s aware of the controversy over seals at Children’s Pool, the University City man said he wasn’t, noting he comes down there partly because the family enjoys it.

“It’s a natural thing for them (seals) to come here,” he said.

Related posts:

  1. Divers pulled from water off La Jolla
  2. La Jolla parks and beaches group opts to become nonprofit
  3. Ranger has his hands full with Children’s Pool
  4. Injured La Jolla teen's dad says 'system at fault' for allowing repeat offenders on streets
  5. La Jollan's Catalina Channel crossing bid halted

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=5302

Posted by Phil Dailey on Nov 4, 2010. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

24 Comments for “Life at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool: Two views”

  1. Concerned native

    “It’s a natural thing for them (seals) to come here,”
    Sure it is, sense Sea World stared releasing their rehab seals here in the mid 90's
    on a MAN MADE BEACH,
    Thank you Mayor Susan Golding
    Thank you City council member, now senator Cristine Kehoe
    The city just as well took Eleen Browning Scripts 70,000.00 in 1931and said SCREW YOU!
    We can do what we want, were the city of San Diego and that was a long time ago…
    Shame on the city, you can not be trusted! Not even a trust…

  2. Fear of Seal Nazis

    The woman pictured in the shouting match, with a man on page 10, deserves a couple of comments. The man was simply discussing shared use of the beach when this woman comes up to him and begins disparaging him immediately at the top of her lungs. Nothing the man tried to do to calm her down worked. Not rational discussion. Not logic. Not politness. Not even humor. She shouted and cussed him out using every vulgar, vile, disgusting word she could think of. She would not let him get a word in response before she called him "a prick", "a dick" and "an asswhole" among a whold additional variety of disgusting language. She even accused him of being a member of the Tea Party. While this was happening, the Seal Protectionists found delight in photographing and vidieo taping him with the intention of bullying anyone with an opposing point of view on their equally revolting propoganda-laced hate website. They are nothing more than INTERNET BULLIES.

    • Put

      The so-called Seal Nazis probably mean well. However, thier tactics are a threat to every peace loving citizen in La Jolla. How long will we wait to get them cleaned out and away from Children's Pool. They are crude. Rude. And Lewed. I heard the screaming match on the day pictured. The woman was nuts and scared the heck out of many of us standing around. Personally, the tried every way possible to de-escalate the confrontation but the Seal Protectionist Woman was on a roll and seemed like she wante to kill the poor guy. He looked shaken as they followed him in thier van continuing to harass and stalk him. He finally ran away down an ally to get them off of him. These people have become a serious physical treat to our well being in La Jolla. If you are a tourist, you might be safer in Mexico than at the Children's pool in La Jolla.

      • Speak up.

        Why won't the good people of La Jolla rise up and demand an end to the childishness being exhibited by the Seal Nazis? I have loved Children's Pool and bringing my own children and guests there. However, with the frightening behavior of the Seal Nazis I have had children pull my hand to leave because of the vulgarity exhibited by the women at the Seal Nazis tables. Protect yourselves with a camera and have 911 on speed dial. Everyone is vunerable to these idiots and noboby's children are safe around them.

  3. Fear of Seal Nazis

    When the man pictured in the shouting match at Children's Pool, on page ten, tried to end the argument peacefully and even offered to shake her hand she exclaimed "Back away from me!" which he did and peacefully walked away. That however was not the end of it. The Seal Protectionists got into their van and actually follwed him. I yelled to him to be careful because that is thier tactic. He was so shaken by the incident he later told me he did not dare get into the car with his wife for fear of a life threatening altercation with these maniacs.

    • I am scared too

      To fear for one's life as a result of a chance encounter is more than anyone of us should have to be put up with. Just once I would like the police to catch these people in thier acts of threatening behavior. They should not be allowed anywhere near children or animals.

      • No pictures please!

        I have been verbally assaulted by the Seal Eco-Terrorists as well! Not a pleasant experience. My friends have ended up on their web-site along with inaccurate information about them. The Seal Eco-Terrorists will film you and then twist your words around and post them for the whole world to see as if it were true. I think the only way to rid ourselves of these low-lifes and the bacteria they are causing at Children's Pool to to fight fire with fire. Is there an attorney out there that would be interested in helping to get a restraining order against the Seal Eco-Terrorists? Can we sue them for threatening our well being while out for a walk on the beach? How do we rid our beautiful town and ocean of these pests? The sooner the better!

  4. Fear of Seal Nazis

    What has La Jolla become? Is no simple citizen safe to express an opinion without fear of bodily harm by the out-of-control Seal Protectionists?

    The so-called Shouting Match as pictured in the La Jolla Light does not tell the real story behind the issues at Children's Pool. Between the T-shirt hawkers and the vocally violent Seal Vigilantes, it is not safe to take your children to Children's Pool. To expose them to the vulgarity and sheer antagonistic bile being spewed forth by the Seal Vigilantes is not a responsible thing to do.

    • Seals vs Humans

      I agree with these comments. I came to La Jolla on vacation with my kids and witnessed absoluetly dispicable behavior by several women standing at the seal tables. These women acted sick in the head. They shouted at people on the sand. Thier bullhorns scared the seals. My daughter started crying. I asked the women what the issues were and was told that people were harrassing the seals. I beg to differ. It seemed to me it was the Seal Protectionists who were doing the harrassing. I canceled my next night at the La Jolla Motel. Took my family home and will never return to La Jolla. I tell my friends to never go to La Jolla because of the indecent behavior and language of the Seal Protectionists. Mayor Saunders, you have a big problem brewing in La Jolla and it is the Seal Protectionists. For all of our safety they must be restrained.

  5. Fear of Seal Nazis

    I think the Children's Wall should be torn down and turn it back into a natural environment than can be used jointly by all sea life and all human life.

    In the meantime, don't dare go by the Seal Nazi's tables without a camera in your hand for self-defense. Don't buy their crappy beanie babies and t-shirts made in foriegn sweat shops. Let them know that there is room in civilized society for calm discussion not just their BULLHORN form of intimidation.

    Long Live the Seals and Children at Children's Pool!! Down with the SEAL

    • Also afraid

      AMEN!!

      Finally a voice of reason in the wilderness. Yes, Yes, Yes. Get rid of the seal-only people. Bring rational people in and get rid of the crazy seal people.

  6. Seal Nazis' Cra

    There is a need to do a financial audit of the Seal Nazis. How much money do they take in from unsuspecting tourists? Where do the crummy trinkets they sell come from? How have the good citizens of La Jolla let these loudmouths take over the beautiful, once peaceful, Children's Pool? If you have never been physically threatened by these people then you really don't know how they behave. I love the cute little seals. I love to see people in the water also. I have never seen a SEAL NAZI in the water. They only stand at their table, selling their crap while the seals continue to crap all over Childrens' Pool. And they take every chance they can to photograph anyone with a different position than them and then to post it on their web site. Ban the SEAL NAZIS from Children's Pool!

  7. bigdipper

    You still do it, Dave. Right from the start – "those favoring the seals and those who want beachgoers to have shared access, and so insinuate shared use is anti-seal by default. Did you not see the signs promoting responsible shared use – how to enjoy the beach and be nice to the seals? There is only one issue – Everybody likes seals, and some would shore the beach responsibly with them per the 1931 trust and the Coastal Act and City policy and some bullies won't share with anybody.

  8. bigdipper

    You are going to have to try harder to appear unbiased. Look at the picture heading "A woman gets too close to the seals…" That seal is completely unconcerned. By what authority do you print she is wrong? Look at the picture heading "Signs show the competing ideas on beach access. " One of those is an official City sign stating City policy per state law. That is not just an idea. Opposing it is not just an idea. Have you not met the ranger and thought to ask what he has seen in 4 months? Always the same Fox News formula. – quote anybody with an opinion, cite no facts. What about new City sales table permit policy going into effect in December to get rid of most of the private party signs?
    As for the other comments – they let their anger at the PETAwannabe's exploiting the seals to bully people to spill over on to the presence of the seals. Think! If APRL went away would you be opposed to share use? Of course not. Everybody likes seals. That is the irony. The self proclaimed beach patrol has brought about the only danger to the seal colony that ever existed, the willingness of a lot of folks to do without the seals if it would make the activists go away. Support the City sales table permit program and the Ranger and Docent programs, so we can all just share in peace.

    • Remove APRL

      La Jolla Children's Pool is a sewage dump for seal feces as a direct result of the APRL. In no small part, because of the woman pictured in your article here on your web site. "Dorota Valli" causes so many problems with people. She takes your money for her crappy little do-dads. Where she got the right to sell such junk is beyond me. How much money she takes in, how much she accounts for and where it goes needs to be looked into. She operates in cash. She has pockets. Her threatening behavior with her digital cameras all lead me to ask, "Just who the hell is Dorota Valli?

  9. Down with APRL

    A couple of comments regarding the woman pictured in your article, Dorota Valli. She is one of the worst examples of the Seal Nazis' behavior. In addition to selling all the crap on thier tables (and never once seen on the sand cleaning up the seal crap that is there primarily because of her and her organization) she uses her digital cameras as weapons against people expressing a different point of view. She gladly sells her T-shirts (made in Honduras) to unsuspecting tourists. But let those same tourists dare express concern about no humans in the water….watch out….she pulls out the camera and starts taking digital photographs of you right in your face. If you persist in the discussion she rapidly threatens to call the police. Soon, another crazy woman will appear out of nowhere to yell at you and also threaten you with police. Their tactic is to so perturb you that you might raise your voice, to match theirs, and then…Bingo–you end up on thier website. We must get rid of these shameful people!

  10. Bad people APRL

    Please warn your friends not to come to La Jolla until these ECO-Terrrorists are removed from our lives. It is not safe for children and other living things as long as people like Dorota Valli and her sick crew and dealt with. Long live the living things at Children's Pool. Down with the APRL (Animal Poop Relishing League.)

  11. Remove APRL

    La Jolla Children's Pool is a sewage dump for seal feces as a direct result of the APRL. In no small part, because of the woman pictured in your article here on your web site. "Dorota Valli" causes so many problems with people. She takes your money for her crappy little do-dads. Where she got the right to sell such junk is beyond me. How much money she takes in, how much she accounts for and where it goes needs to be looked into. She operates in cash. She has pockets. Her threatening behavior with her digital cameras all lead me to ask, "Just who the hell is she…and why does she keep doing these awful things to people who just want to discuss the issue?" She is a wolf in sheep's clothing and someone the Children of La Jolla should be very afraid of. Her group of people who will threaten you, film you, antagonize you then threaten to call the police on you. They will go into their big SUV's, trucks and vans and turn on the engine, with the windows rolled up (real GREEN of them) or worse yet, actually drive their cars and follow you. No kidding…they will actually use a vehicle as a ECO-Weapon against anyone who dares challenge them.

  12. She did it to me too

    why does Dorota Valli keep doing these awful things to people who just want to discuss the issue?" She is a wolf in sheep's clothing and someone the Children of La Jolla should be very afraid of. Her group of people who will threaten you, film you, antagonize you then threaten to call the police on you. They will go into their big SUV's, trucks and vans and turn on the engine, with the windows rolled up (real GREEN of them) or worse yet, actually drive their cars and follow you. No kidding…they will actually use a vehicle as a ECO-Weapon against anyone who dares challenge them.

  13. Concerned native

    How about Andrea Hahn pictured in the the photo in a shouting match, she is just as bad as Dorota if not worse. she also video tapes people swimming or going on the beach and will not hesitate to put you on youtube.
    The citizens of La Jolla need to attain a restraining order against these disruptive vigilantes for disturbing the peace and their uncivil actions in public within a park and scamming tourist out of their money and giving San Diego a black eye…

    • Hanah

      Thank you for identifying her. Her vulgar verbal tantrums need to have a face and a name put them. Andrea Hahn knock it off. please.

  14. Concerned native

    People use this beach for what it was intended. If it wasn't for Sea World's change in there rehab, release program sponsored by Mayor Golding and NMFS / NOAA . We would not have this mess and could have saved the tax payers millions of dollars that could have been used to rebuild the Children's Pool and Lifeguard station .
    No EIR study was conducted. This is by far the cities greatest boondoggle !

  15. Concerened Visitor

    I'm ashamed to say that, if I hadn't seen it for my self, I might sympathize with these "pro-seal activists". But, while there from Laguna Beach this weekend, what I saw blew me away. These women yelling at children. Not in an attempt to educate but to make them cry. To incite their parents into a fury. I truly believe their goal is to push people to the point of getting physical. I thought I was going to witness something terrible. We did not go on the beach but my 8 year old son was afraid and wanted to go home. I feel so bad for the people of La Jolla. I think the city must believe it politically incorrect to push out what many think are well intentioned "environmentalist". I know from seeing with my own eyes, these people are a danger and a menace. Good luck.

  16. kelly

    i had the unfortunate experience of meeting andrea hahn at my place of business.
    this obnoxious woman was verbally abusive to many people, including myself, ranting and raving about how she did not like having to wait for service. the other custumers
    were appalled at her behavior, and verbalized this to me. this woman is a selfish,disgusting, abusive human being with no concern for other human beings.

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