Opinion: What would Ellen Browning Scripps do?

By Gary Ng
Carlsbad resident

Who doesn’t love the La Jolla seals? I found out for myself after making a pro-seal comment to my daughter at Casa Beach, only to find an angry and militant anti-seal supporter telling me how wrong I am. As a long time San Diego resident and writer of a San Diego tourist website (www.localwally.com), I was angered that we’ve let the seal debate mutate to the level of provocation and insults. The anti-seal supporter was clearly trying to start a fight or cause a scene and would not back down until I left. This isn’t right. I have no problem with people stating their views in a peaceful manner, but aggressive and antagonistic behavior should not be tolerated.

I’ve since contacted the groups who support turning Casa Beach into a marine mammal reserve and learned of some of the tactics the anti-seal group have been using … I’ve also learned that the anti-seal group is actually a small group of elitist individuals who want their dive spot and swimming area back and who, unfortunately, have great influence on the La Jolla planning committee and La Jolla Town Council. Their recent court battle win to have the rope barrier removed is an indication of just how powerful and well funded they are.

But imagine if the anti-seal group (or as they like to be called, “pro-beach access”) got their way. What do we gain? What do we lose? Will San Diegans be happier that this group got their 200 feet of beach back, or will we wonder how lost such a unique local treasure?

It’s time for the mayor and our elected officials to take a stand to protect one of San Diego’s most precious natural attractions. Ellen Browning Scripps might have dedicated the sea wall to the children of San Diego, but I doubt that if she were alive today that she would support the antics of the anti-seal activists nor the removal of a resource that brings so much joy and wonder to children of all ages.

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  3. OPINION: Seals at Cove are unwelcome
  4. OPINION: A word to ‘Clean News’ sponsors
  5. OPINION: ‘Clean News’ message way off base

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=35290

Posted by Staff on Feb 9, 2011. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

26 Comments for “Opinion: What would Ellen Browning Scripps do?”

  1. SD Native

    Well lets just dig her up and see what she thinks….

    Ellen Browning Scripps (1836-1932), a community
    resident since 1897, sought a solution to the dangers posed
    to young swimmers. Scripps devoted much of her time
    to the welfare and safety of La Jolla’s children. An investor
    and consultant in the newspaper empire run by her brother, E. W. Scripps, she amassed a considerable fortune before 1890. She founded the
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Scripps College, Scripps Hospital, and
    Scripps Clinic. She built the La Jolla Women’s Club and the La Jolla Public Library.
    She purchased the pueblo lots that became Torrey Pines State Reserve for use as
    a public park. She donated money to the San Diego Zoo, provided scholarships to
    the Bishop’s School, and helped to build the Children’s Playground and Recreation
    Center. Scripps explained, “I have always had an innate interest in children,
    particularly those handicapped in life’s game.” While the creation of a breakwater
    would ultimately benefit all visitors to La Jolla’s beaches, she wanted “the children
    to have a primary claim” to such a structure.

    To all she has done to for the people and the city of San Diego, we should disgrace her last wishes like this, her most precious gift of all. I am sure she is turning in her grave…

    From the SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
    “Until Kingdom Come”
    The Design and Construction of
    La Jolla’s Children’s Pool

    • Carly

      If you believe that she is turning in her grave, then you clearly do not understand what kind of person she was. Not only did Scripps love children, she loved animals. If she were alive today, I'm sure she would be so happy to see the children of San Diego looking out to the seals and learning about nature. Quite frankly, I think she would be disappointed in you.

      • Michael

        Ellen Revelle (her niece) stated several times in interviews that Scripps would not want seals in the Children's Pool

        • James

          While Ellen Revelle would seem to be the most credible source on her Aunts possible opinion (she was 20 when the wall was built) "I think rolling over in her grave" is a bit hyperbolic.

  2. bigdipper

    The writer clearly did go by the antibeachaccess table and get an earload. However:
    There is no group or activity to remove seals. They are protected there by State and Federal law. Only shared access, which has worked fine all these years is in danger, and the cash flow of the antibeachaccess folks who have prospered there, soliciting money to save what is already saved.
    If the probeachaccess people have so much political influence, why has the City Attorney suspended City code enforcement there, to protect APRL's unpermitted sales table and begging bowl. If the probeachaccess have it all, why is the intent of the City to replace the winter advisory rope with a blockade of the stairs posted at the lifeguard station? Will they cheat and remind the Coastal Commission it ruled 10 years ago a marine mammal reserve cannot be created on a public trusted beach? (on Shell Beach)
    There was no recent court battle win to have the rope barrier removed. Pure fabrication. The only battle was the suit by APRL to try to force the Mayor to ignore the City Attorney and the law so to cordon off the beach in summer & fall too with an "emergency" permit. After that failure, they have sued the City again to make the City violate state law and deny access to the public. Your donation to them helped pay for it and your taxes will pay for the City having to defend itself.
    Imagine if the pro-beach access folks got their way and the City continued its years-old shared use policy with the new ranger and docents to promote responsible beach sharing. Imagine that. Sorry somebody got mad at whatever he did not want to tell us he said, but classified as "pro-seal". Could it have been the very sort of "provocation and insults" he decried, but spread through his letter.

  3. Phyllis Minick

    Gary Ng should take the time to check Ms Scripps will on fileat the La Jolla Historical Society. In that hard-bound document, she cites "the Children's Pool" by precisely that name four times. Furthermore, there is no "anti-seal" group. However, an anti-social, anti civic rights group called APRL attacks the visitors who are so valuable to our community and our economy.

  4. happymom

    Wow, someone was rude about the seals, that is so NEWS. The only difference with this piece is that it wasn't the APRL doing the yelling and harassing.

    The group that has had tables up for years has tried to get innocent vacationers spun up about protecting something that is already protected and is NOT endangered.

  5. Anonymous

    Today I drove out from El Cajon with my family so my 2 year old could see the seals. We were greeted at the beach by a fat shirtless man barbecuing on the water-side of the rope, DURING PUPPING SEASON, and sending his friends into the water occasionally to scare off the seals. Meanwhile a mother seal ended up birthing her pup on the rocks on the other side of the breakwater, a very dangerous situation for both mother and pup. She was too frightened by the aggressive fools in the Childrens Pool.

    First off, if it were not for the seals, we wouldn't have fought the traffic to bother coming to La Jolla in the first place. Second, people that like to assert their dominance over animals that don't fight back are pathetic excuses for humanity. Third, I think that Ellen Browning Scripps would have delighted in the joy on the faces of the children that get to observe seals in their natural habitat. Keep in mind that when she gave the Childrens Pool to the city, she did so in the spirit of giving children a safe area of beach access. That was before all of San Diego's beaches were accessible the way they are today. Nowadays there is no reason on earth that such a treasure of nature should be destroyed for the greed and ignorance of such a small group of people. People flock from miles around, and even from around the world, to see the seals there. It would be such a waste if it were to be ruined. I know that I for one would boycott La Jolla and everything associated with it until my dying day if that were to happen.

  6. SD Native

    Anonymous from El Cajon, Ellen Browning Scripps built the "CHILDREN'S POOL" FOR CHILDREN, not for seals, that is why it is called Children's Pool, not Seals Pool !!! This just goes to show you , there is no life east of I-5

  7. beth

    the best solution would be to poll all of the childen in san diego schools and see if they would rather have 200 feet of beach, or rather the opportunity to see the seals and pups on the beach. i would be willing to bet a good amount of money that the children of san diego would rather have the seals stay.

    the children's pool can still be for children in a different way. i have been going there to see the seals since i was a child and it is one of my favorite places to visit in san diego. i am a san diego native who grew up at the beach. believe it or not i went swimming at many of the other wonderful, sandy beaches in san diego and did not drown, become maimed, carried away by a rip current or all the other horrible things you site when speaking about the other beaches in san diego.

    the only people who seem to be upset about the seals are ADULT divers. the children seem to always have faces filled with delight when watching a seal care for her pup on the beach.

    • seal Team 6

      What a great Idea, and lets ask the same children if they want to see Polar Bears on every street corner down town too, or if they would rather have ice cream for dinner!
      There is a reason why children can't vote…
      Many people do not drown, become maimed, carried away by a rip currents everyday, but the numbers and statistics will show that this beach is far safer and fewer rescues with in the pool compared to out side beyond the protection of the sea wall, there would be more pool if the city would remove the sand build up or open the slice ways to control, 1. the sand build up, 2. the amount of seals and the waste they produce, really, how many seals do you have to see…

      • beth

        "really, how many seals do you have to see… "
        for real? with 60 miles of sandy beach in san diego, how many more inches do you need to be able to access the ocean? this 200 yards is what is going to make the difference to you to be able to get into the ocean? get real.

        if you are so concerned about the safety of the children swimming in the ocean, then you should just take them to a pool. why would the city have to spend money on sand build-up and slice ways control where there is so much other beach people can use.

        your logic and reasoning is why you should not be able to vote. if it is the children's pool, and therefor made for children i know that they would rather have seals there to view than that tiny bit of beach.

      • beth

        "What a great Idea, and lets ask the same children if they want to see Polar Bears on every street corner down town too, or if they would rather have ice cream for dinner! "

        this argument makes no sense. it would be one things if polar bears were native to san diego , if they posed no physical harm and if thousands of people came to view them on a daily basis.

        we are talking about seals here. creatures native to san diego, that are already in the environment. san diego natives and tourists alike all enjoy the chance to view the seals up close.

        you are basically saying that the children of san diego are idiots and that you know that they want. you are arguing that the children stupidly want the seals because they are naive and that they would much rather have a very small strip of beach.

  8. beth

    and if you want to get literal about the name "the children's pool" then that should mean only children should be allowed to use it. no seals, no adults.

    • Seal Team 6

      We could make a children's drop off at the curb and a height restriction limit bar at the stairs for the adults and a seal fence in the water for the seals, great idea, we should asked the city council for this one, I am sure they would approve this! But would it pass the Planning Commission? No matter Seal activist attorney Bryan Pease will just sue and the courts will send it back to the PC and waste millions of SD tax payer dollars.

      • beth

        i think your idea of the childrens drop off and height restriction is very good. you should pitch it at the next meeting.

        if you are going to argue for the literal meaning of the "children's" pool and say things like its not the "seal's pool", then its not the "diver's pool" the "spearfisher's pool" or the "adult's pool" either.

  9. Aubree

    Great article, thanks so much for posting!
    Beth is right on, the beach is still absolutely for the children! It is their for their viewing and educational benefit. I mean, how cool is it to be able to see seal pups and their moms sunbathing and resting on the sand? I've never seen seals in this manner outside of La Jolla.
    It amazes me that people actually think they have more right to the ocean than those that make the ocean their home. There are plenty of beaches for children to swim, why is it so essential that we take away this small beach from the seals?
    This spot should definitely be a wildlife reserve. I hope that the city stands up for this very special place.

    • SD Native

      Aubree, the reason you have never seen seal pups and their moms sunbathing and resting on the sand at any other beach is because it is not natural. Wild seals have there pups on and in secluded rocks and bluffs so no predators will find them…They are well camouflaged on rocky environments, that is why it is hard to see the on seal rock there natural environment. They make this there home because there are no predators in La Jolla on land, and thanks to Sea Worlds change in there rehab release program who stocked this area with seals no longer afraid of humans.
      This is the only MAN MADE BEACH IN CALIFORNIA, the seals have the enter coast and the channel islands to make there home and are far safer then being on this MAN MADE BEACH, where they could be harassed by numb skulls.
      This beach is bought and payed for, raise your own money and make your own seal beach, ask Seal Watch for help they have made a ton of cash conning the tourist that this is the only harbor seal rookery in southern Ca. but wait they forgot to tell you about the Point Loma harbor seal rookery, ask Sea World they now have been releasing rehab. seals there too….

  10. Love the idea of letting only "children" into the Children Pool area. And ironically, they probably would show more respect to the seals that do show up than the pro-beach access adults who forced the issue.

  11. laura

    the biggest problem with the pro-beach access argument is that they are using children as a disguise for their own selfish interests. they say the pool is for the children, but really they want the space to be able to go diving.

    there is a small minority of people who want to take away this local treasure from the people of san diego and its visitors. they feel that they are more important than the wildlife that has thrived in this area for years. it is this selfish thinking that is destroying the natural beauty of san diego.

    and as a native san diegan i am disappointed and saddened by the blatant display of selfishness and disregard to nature this group shows.

  12. Amelia

    I always loved going to see the seals when I was a kid, and I still go back to see them when I visit my parents. It's nice to get to see seals actually out in the wild rather than in some tank at Sea World (surprisingly enough, the beaches and oceans are their natural habitat), and there is no shortage of seal-free beaches in San Diego for families to take their children to (or at least my parents were always able to find plenty of places to take my sister and me swimming without displacing wildlife).

  13. Carly

    Scaring away the seals would be one of the biggest disservices to our children. While I'm an adult now, I grew up in San Diego with the seals. Never once did I look at that plot of land and say, "I really wish that I could swim here, that the seals would stop lounging on MY beach" or "hey seals, this beach was dedicated to me, not you." It was an adventure and it was something I looked forward to. We'd walk around La Jolla, visit the seals, then walk about another mile to go to a seal-less (and perfectly safe and clean) beach.

    If we stop protecting the seals, we get another small piece of beach. But the children will miss the excitement and experience of the seals. In no other place along the coast is there such a beautiful and NATURAL thing. We've already covered San Diego with freeways and high-end housing, can we not just leave a plot for nature?

    I think pro-seal gets conflated with anti-children. In fact, it's the exact opposite. While this argument seems pertinent now, in 50 years we'll see just another beach and dream about the days when you could go see the seals. I just wish all of these pro-beachers could take a step back and see how selfish they're being.

    • SD Diver

      But scaring away the people from the only man made beach is OK ?
      Are not the seals fully protected by federal law ?
      Is this man made beach a natural Habitat ?
      If seals want to use or make little seals here, I can Share, why can't you ?

      • I think the anti-seal people have made it perfectly clear they do not share well.

      • Aubree

        haha, scaring the people away from the beach. Silliness. I don't believe she ever said that we should scare people from the beach, rather that we should allow people to visit the beach and view the seals at a distance that allows for the seals to feel safe and comfortable. We can definitely share with the seals, by viewing them from the wall or from behind the roped area.

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