Sealing the fate of the Children’s Pool

Let Inga Tell You. Look for La Jolla resident Inga's lighthearted looks at life every other week in The La Jolla Light.

I have to confess my husband implored me not to write about the seals. He works hard enough, he says, without having to come home to crosses burning on the front lawn.
So let me start out by saying that it was incredibly generous of Ellen Browning Scripps to have donated the money for a breakwater at Seal Rock Point some 80 years ago as “a gratuity to children.”

But in more recent years, WHAT children?

Maybe I just walked by at all the wrong times, but I rarely – pre-seals — saw many children at the Children’s Pool. In fact, most of the habitués in the last few decades seem to have been teenagers with group death wishes hanging out on the sea wall during storm surf. (They’re actually still there, same death wish, going for up-close-and-personal photo-ops with the seals.)

I’m sorry, Ellen, because I know you were very well intentioned. And because in 1931, I’ll bet there weren’t that many backyard pools. Heck, there weren’t that many people (less than a tenth of what there are now.)

And you could probably even park in downtown La Jolla since there weren’t that many cars either. But the times I took my now-30-something kids to the Children’s Pool, I had to schlep a two-year-old and a four-year-old and all their beach stuff a number of blocks from my parking place across traffic then navigate down three slippery sets of steps to the beach. The teeny weenie beach. The beach that had about 50 feet of waterfront and if I recall, a rather nasty drop off.

This wasn’t exactly the beach of this toddler parent’s dreams. As a nice enclosed space where it was fun to wade, it was good. But if the kids actually wanted to get wet, I found La Jolla Shores or Pacific Beach at low tide preferable and a lot more accessible.

Now, of course, the entire infrastructure of the Children’s Pool is disintegrating. Even the bathrooms have succumbed to decay, replaced by five totally rank view-busting Porta Potties (aka The Restrooms of Last Resort) on the street level three flights up.

But during its heyday, the Children’s Pool enjoyed a definite success. People in my age group who grew up here would attest to many happy memories there. Probably not coincidentally, a number of such acquaintances are among the most vocal members of the Nuke The Seals (as one insists she’d happily do) faction.

But in my observation, over the last three decades, the Children’s Pool has been pretty much abandoned. If Ellen had had a crystal ball along with her desire to promote water safety, she would have left a second bequest to the Murray Callan Swim School. It was there, the Y, the Back Yard Swim program, the Beach and Tennis Club, the family pool or a host of other swimming locations, that kids in the last 30 or so years have been hanging out.

As for the shared-use proposal, however appealing the concept is, I’m not seeing tiny kids, tiny beach, wild animals, and coliform bacteria as a winning combination.

I don’t remember precisely when our controversial Pinnipeds first moved from the
adjoining rocks to the sand but I am fairly certain that the seals didn’t stage a Normandy-style invasion against a beachlet of terrified tots. The beach was pretty much there for the taking.

So what’s going on here?
For some, is this a case of nostalgia run amok? For others, I have no clue. Hate marine mammals if you will, but deliberately crossing the rope barrier to torment baby seals in the name of “children” has a logic that I don’t get.

Assuming the seals are driven from the beach in Ellen’s honor by continued marine mammal mayhem, is this suddenly going to become a Shangri-La full of frolicking kids again? Maybe, but not likely. It will still be a massively decaying structure with impossible parking and a residual seal poop problem akin to Chernobyl.

There is now a security guard at the Children’s Pool to mediate warfare between the Seal Sadists and the pro-animal Sealots. The adults in our otherwise-wonderful internationally renowned community have been polarized by a legal and verbal fight to the death over the exclusive rights of use of a tiny beach that the exclusees abandoned years ago.

The kids, meanwhile, are adoring the seals.

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Posted by Staff on May 4, 2011. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Let Inga Tell You. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

63 Comments for “Sealing the fate of the Children’s Pool”

  1. guest

    You gotta be kidding me.____No kids?____Apparently you live on saturn, and are blind, and do not know what a child sounds like, because if you lived on Earth and went to La Jolla and the Children's Pool on a weekend, you would see the beach filled with children, and hear their cries of joy filling the air as they enjoy this treasure with it's safe swimming area.____To be continued..

  2. Will

    Nice piece. I mean, it's well written. It is the "lighthearted" perspective of one person. Thanks for playing.

    Inga, you raise some points that may be true, but not entirely applicable to the issue of the Children's Pool. Your editorial focuses entirely on the use of the Children's Pool (CP) for children. Seems like an obvious place to start, but you didn't finish the job. Almost as long as the CP has been used by children, it has been used by spearfisherman and divers for a safe beach entry. There is no beach like it in La Jolla where one can safely enter the ocean with a speargun or heavy scuba gear.

    You say that "over the last three decades, the Children’s Pool has been pretty much abandoned."- Abandoned by the City of San Diego unfortunately. A greater group of beach users would be utilizing the beach if the City had not been so waffley in it's stances towards the pool. The current rope barrier just adds to the confusion.

    "deliberately crossing the rope barrier to torment baby seals in the name of “children” has a logic that I don’t get."- Hey Igna, let's keep this "lighthearted", ok? You're sounding just like the animal rights activists that lie for donations down there. How many times have you "tormented" animals while walking through a park? Ever had squirrels or birds scatter in reaction to your stroll? Let's keep some perspective here…

    Hmm, maybe parking would improve if the City dispersed the seals? All the seal gawkers would go back to sea world. Just a thought…

    The status quo at the Children's Pool is just fine. Seals aren't getting hurt, people aren't getting hurt. The two problems at hand can be sourced to a. animal rights activists for causing a controversy when there is none, and b., the City, for lacking the urgency to instate improvements to the area and installing such things as "rope barriers" to discourage the public from using their beach.

    By the way, your piece did not conclude with any proposed solution. What does the final chapter in the Children's Pool beach and facilities look like to you? It is a "Seal Preserve"? Wait, we already have one of those 200 yards north of Children's Pool, the rock there is a marine mammal preserve. How much of our coastline are we willing to cede for the enjoyment of marine mammals who can very easily go elsewhere. You may notice a particularly strong stench at the Cove these days… at what point do we sacrifice THAT beach because a few sea lions decide the sand is more comfortable than the rocks?

    Please engage in some logical thinking and realize that the animal activists have hijacked your psyche to continue on the slippery slope of putting animals above humans.

    • npk32

      "Your editorial focuses entirely on the use of the Children's Pool (CP) for children. Seems like an obvious place to start, but you didn't finish the job."

      That comment strikes me as odd because the pro-access rhetoric touches on that point so often. It's all about the children. The children need a safe place to swim, the children need a place to play, the children need to be able to play frisbee with some creepy guy in tight red shorts, etc.

      If you guys want to keep access to this beach open because there's nowhere else in La Jolla where you can safely fire spears at fish then just come right out and say it. Enough with the rhetoric.

      "How many times have you 'tormented' animals while walking through a park? Ever had squirrels or birds scatter in reaction to your stroll? Let's keep some perspective here…"

      Good job making sure we're keeping things in perspective. Except adults don't usually go out of their way to deliberately scatter squirrels or birds in a park. Especially if the park is 70 miles wide and there's only squirrels or birds on a 200 yard stretch of it. And they happen to be a variety of squirrel or bird that can't be found in virtually any other park in the entire country. And there wasn't a rope set up to discourage people from scattering the squirrels or birds. And the squirrels and birds happened to be pregnant. And it wasn't a federal offense to scatter squirrels or birds. Aside from all that your analogy really helped to keep things in perspective here.

      "Please engage in some logical thinking and realize that the animal activists have hijacked your psyche to continue on the slippery slope of putting animals above humans."

      To continue putting animals above humans? Do me a favor. Go to any beach in the entire country. Literally any beach. Then tell me how many of those beaches are dominated by animals as opposed to humans. Talk about perspective… I'm deathly afraid for our future.

      • dahunter

        "the children need to be able to play frisbee with some creepy guy in tight red shorts"
        The "creepy guy in tight red shorts" Is actually that kids dad

  3. jess

    I would like to have the choice to show my children the seals up close on the beach rather then afar from the top of the stairs where theres a seal lady yelling obscenities at children for being on the beach

    • Inga

      I couldn’t agree more with you that no one should be yelling at anyone down at the Children’s Pool. But I have to take issue with the concept of people – particularly children – getting close to the seals. One down side of the wonderful local zoological institutions is that the general public has come under the impression that wild animals are always happy to pose for photo ops. I feel there are serious safety concerns with mixing marine mammals and people in such a small area – especially when the rope barrier is down. This isn’t the walrus petting tank at Sea World. I’ve seen parents try to stick their tiny kids up as close as possible to the seals for photos (where are Child Protective Services when you need them???), never mind the teenagers who actually lie down next to them. I sometimes wish we could let natural selection takes it course and let the seals eat a few of these guys, preferably before they’ve had a chance to throw their genes forward. But that’s just me. At the least, the California High School exit exam definitely needs an additional question: What is a wild animal and why should we show it some respect – and space.

      • fishinwithagun

        Wow Inga, you've really blown your cover on this one. So the La Jolla Light has a bonafide animal rights activist writing columns for them??

        "One down side of the wonderful local zoological institutions is that the general public has come under the impression that wild animals are always happy to pose for photo ops."

        ——-So we should make it a matter of public policy to make sure wild animals are "happy"? Ensuring the survival of species, yes…. happiness, well, I'm not so sure a harbor seal knows what it feels like to be "happy", because intrinsically, it's a piece of blubber that eats, craps, and makes more harbor seals.

        "I sometimes wish we could let natural selection takes it course and let the seals eat a few of these guys, preferably before they’ve had a chance to throw their genes forward."

        ——- Yep, just another wacko wishing the seals could take "revenge" on humans by killing them. Then true justice would be served, right? A "seal feeling discomfort for a human life" – a fair trade for an animal rights activist.

        "At the least, the California High School exit exam definitely needs an additional question: What is a wild animal and why should we show it some respect – and space."

        ——- Because we don't have more important standards to meet for our students these days?

        LADY HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? I suspect you will defend your comments as "lighthearted", but they show what your agenda really is.

        Folks, these people (I suspect Inga is one of them) will try to play reasonable in public, making appeals to the safety of your children and common values like "respect for animals"- make no mistake, they are radicals that ultimately view the majority of humans as a pestilence upon the earth. There is one word for these people: hypocrites.

        I would laugh if modern society was suspended for a moment and you, Inga, had to live like the Chumash Indians for a year. You are sitting in your La Jolla ivory tower now, when its convenient to be an animal rights activist, but I would think if your survival depended on it, you just might be "reduced" to bashing a seal's head in with a rock in order to clothe and feed yourself. Please examine your motives, and tell me if you entire argument isn't just based upon just one bubbling geyser of emotions.

        Inga, please provide us with evidence to back up your concerns that children on the beach are in danger of being physically threatened by seals at the Children's Pool? The burden of proof is upon you, as I have witnessed not a single incident. Every scientific paper will tell you that harbor seals are very docile pinnipeds and their threat response is to flee. Furthermore, the seals at Children's Pool are very acclimated to the presence of humans, and a number of them have been coddled and fed by Sea World rehabilitation staff.

        • Inga

          Fish – Get a grip! I have to confess I wouldn't normally reply to someone with a screen name of "fishinwithagun" but I feel compelled to point out that I have published exactly ***one***column about the seals which gave a different slant than has been published before. I'm trying to see how that makes me a, "bona fide animal rights activist" which you appear to equate with being a bottom-dwelling scum-sucking child molester. My sympathies were obviously on the side of the seals but let me be clear: I think BOTH sides have gone totally off the deep end.

          • shredder

            Wow you really can keep your cool can't you. Resorting to name calling is one of the best tactics for adults to engage in conversation.

          • dahunter

            So since he wants is a pro-access person, he is a child molester?
            Of course! she is using seal logic!!

          • Guest

            I feel the need to jump in here. What Inga said was that you seemed to think that animal rights activists were on the same low level as child molesters. She didn't call fishinwithagun a child molester. So I'm not sure what the "name calling" thing is about. The way I read that is that she was scared/intimated by fishinwithaGUN's name.

        • npk32

          Well that comment certainly ratcheted up the insanity in short order.

          "I'm not so sure a harbor seal knows what it feels like to be 'happy', because intrinsically, it's a piece of blubber that eats, craps, and makes more harbor seals."

          Talk about blowing your cover. I thought pro-access advocates were in love with the seals. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the rest of the environment. How do you feel about fish and birds? Dogs and cats? Trees? Flowers? Do you hate everything that isn't human or do you make exceptions in some cases?

          Also, do you honestly think that people who say that we should respect animals are "radicals that ultimately view the majority of humans as a pestilence upon the earth?" I say we should respect animals. I don't view the majority of humans as a pestilence upon the earth.

          However, I do think humans need to be more aware of the impact that they have on wildlife and the environment as a whole. I think the majority of humans don't fully understand the impact they have on wildlife and the environment as a whole. I also think it's detrimental to wildife, the environment, and humans to demonize people who show concern for these issues just because the wildlife for which they're concerned makes it slightly less convenient for you to carry out your weekend plans.

          You want to talk about the Chumash? Is that supposed to bring perspective to this issue in some way? The Chumash had respect for wildlife and their environment. The Chumash lived in the same area for thousands of years. They were able to coexist with their environment. How long did it take us, as an industrialized nation, to come in, displace them, overdevelop and overcrowd the area, and decimate the wildlife and environment around us? 150 years? 100 years?

          As the human population grows exponentially do you think this trend will stop? Let me make clear that in no way does this comment reflect a hatred towards humans. If that's what you're taking away from any environmental or animal rights activism then you're not paying attention. The goal is to coexist, to show respect. Your rhetoric does a disservice to anyone with these goals in mind.

          • shredder

            Actually when the chumash were around you would not see harbor seals or sea lions around like they do today. Coyotes would eat them. I am glad the seals are there and I am glad they are protected from coyotes. I enjoy the shared use beach today with the seals and was harassed by Dorota up on the wall while I was on the beach. I walked right by her booth and she did not say a word. Clearly a show to collect tourists dollars. NPK32 you know nothing about wildlife and it shows by your post. Check your history before you post again.

          • npk32

            Which part of my comment above leads you to believe that I know nothing about wildlife or that I need to check my history?

          • Seal team 6

            "Which part of my comment above leads you to believe that I know nothing about wildlife or that I need to check my history"?
            ALL OF IT….

          • npk32

            Good answer pal, glad to see you're paying attention.

  4. julinparis

    Thanks Inga, loved your perspective and calm approach to what is obviously a divisive subject. I think leaving the beach to the seals is great, and get rid of the port-o-potties and instead put up a Memorial wall where photos of how the beach has been used in the past can be viewed and enjoyed by the tourists that are arriving to see and watch the seals.
    The tourism business would likely increase income in the City, and that could be used to refurbish the stairs and railings. Good luck, and thanks for all your articles, you genuinely keep me entertained!!

    • npk32

      Uh oh, now you did it.

      "The tourism business would likely increase income in the City."

      Cue the angry, typo-riddled reply from a pro-access advocate ready to refute your claim that tourists come to La Jolla to see the seals in 5, 4, 3….

      (Extra points for invoking the name of Ellen Browning Scripps or a reference to "kool-aid.")

  5. Emmet

    Inga, you completely missed the point. There is no one down there who hates the seals. No one! The shared used people love having them around and dive with them in the water all the time. The people on the beach are also cleaning it up on a regular basis as well as telling tourists how close they can get to the seals without disturbing them. The Lady with the bullhorn screaming obscenities certainly seems to care for them as well in warped odd view as well while scamming tourist out of money.
    Since when is being on the same beach as a Harbor Seal considered tormenting?
    You might want to try and visit the CP more often and see children enjoying it. Yes it it starting to show it age, but its a public park that is eighty years old. While there are miles and miles of coast line I can go to, point out one spot that has a safe protected entry and exit like the Children's Pool.

    • Inga

      Emmett – No one down there hates the seals? Could have fooled me. When I see people deliberately crossing the rope barrier and approaching the seals with the intent of flushing them into the water, I’m not feeling the love. When someone’s football “accidentally” ends up in the middle of a group of seals, I don’t get any warm fuzzy feelings either. When some numnut sets up camp well inside the rope barrier and sits there cooking weenies on his camp stove and daring the seals to come up on the beach, my first reaction isn’t “Awwww, how sweet.” I stand by my line that “Tiny kids, tiny beach, wild animals and coliform bacteria aren’t a winning combination in my view.” I would never let a child of mine get near that water at this point. Not so happy about the sand quality either. I’m puzzled why people would fight to take their children to a polluted beach. But we do agree on one thing: that screaming has to stop.

      • guest

        Wait a second Inga, you are claiming to know the intent of the people crossing the rope? To wit "approaching the seals with the intent of flushing them into the water"…

        That is a bald faced LIE.

        I am one of those people who crosses that barrier, and I have no such intent WHATSOEVER. I feel I can safely speak for 99.9999 percent of the other people who cross the barrier when I say they have no intent whatsoever to flush the seals, nor any intent to harm the seals.

        I demand an immiediete retraction of your libelous statement and an apology to those of us who use the beach. YOU DO NOT KNOW MY INTENTIONS. STOP SLANDERING THOSE OF US WHO USE THE BEACH.

  6. Bernice the Seal

    You should love the SEALS they got Osama!?

  7. FIrst off, nobody has been bit by a seal. In fact, I couldn't even find a case of the common seal (phoca vitulina) biting someone.

    Second, where then are spear divers supposed to launch? In your proposal will a new lifeguard tower be build? We'll also need a wall to protect againt waves and currents. It will need to be a beach not facing west so that the currents and waves are reduced.

    Finally, if you have complaints about how it is being maintained then it should be addressed. The concept of "well it was poorly maintained so we should just throw it away" concept is not very well thought out. If Balboa park were to be no longer maintained squirrels would be everywhere and should we then give the park to the squirrels? Makes no sense.

  8. Oh, and as far as tourism goes, who in their right mind would travel to see an animal that is on every coast in the northern hemisphere? They are even in New York!

    • npk32

      Let me break this down for you in very simple terms. According to the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau approximately 32 million tourists visit San Diego every year. Those tourists spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 billion in San Diego County.

      The tourists are already here. They're looking for places to go and spend their money. No one's saying tourists are coming here strictly to see the seals, However, La Jolla could leverage the presence of the seals to get a bigger cut of that $7 billion.

      Maybe just try reading slower if you're having trouble understanding.

      • cyberKICK

        The La Jolla Planning Commission as repeatedly voted to have the "attraction" removed. The City of San Diego never got an EIR which is required for such an attraction, and has constantly gone against the wishes of those in La Jolla. It is council members outside La Jolla who are the ones trying to force this on La Jollians. I even talked with the Tie Dye shirt person and was told that sales were bad at that location. Apparently people coming to see a free seal zoo don’t have any money. Perhaps a better leverage would be to restore the once world renowned scuba diving and spear fishing opportunities there. Tourists really don’t want to see a bunch of people on blow horns yelling at children.

      • cyberKICK

        Opps, I forgot to mention, if seal-watching is such great leverage why not look a the seals on the other side of the wall and on seal rock? For that matter, why not look at them in point loma and along the bluffs north of Scripps Pier? These seals are all over the place.

  9. Dorota

    Witty and accurate, thanks Inga!

    • Seal teem 6

      "Witty and accurate" Lies, what flavor of Kool-Aid will you be serving at your table today Dorota !

    • Davy Jones

      Dorota, how come you won't tell the public about the Other Harbor Seal Rookery here in San Diego, just 10 miles south of Children's Pool just below the water treatment plant at Point Loma.
      Is it because you need this to be the ONLY seal rookery south of Carpinteria in order to "Save the Seals" and con the tourist out of there money. APRL/ Seal Watch created this "Tourist attraction" to part money from our tourist to support there vegan campaigns and "Pro Bono" lawyer to sue the city in frivolous lawsuits.
      If these seal are in so dyer need of this beach and are subjected to all of this harassment, then why do they remain here day after day, night after night.
      They can't stay on the beach all the time and we don't see Sea World feeding them anymore, so they have to leave sometime to eat !
      With a record number of 45 seals born here on this MAN MADE BEACH this pupping season, what do the seals need to be saved from?
      Seal Watch San Diego lobbed a state senator to amend the trust, now this is California's first "SHARED USE BEACH" , You got what you lobbed for, so with that compromise the seal have been saved !

    • Dave

      I think you mean accurate aside from the blatant lie that people are crossing the rope to "torment baby seals", and that there are no children on the beach, and that shared use isn't working, and that there are other safe places like this, and that the seals don't have other places to go….

      Yeah, tooooootally accurate, aside from being completly rife with inaccuracies and lies that is

    • Michael

      I find it interesting that one of the activists most responsible for the misery and unrest at the Children's Pool comes out of the woodwork to defend this article.

  10. Don Perry

    Congratulation for including most of the rediculous biased fabrications that have been part of the pro animal, anti-children rights crowd over the past several years. Saying that Childrens' pool was abandoned is rediculous, to say the least. As late as the early 1990s, before Sea World started to release their hand raised rehabs in the area of Children's Pool, the beach was so popular, that our family would have to claim a spot on the beach very early in the day during Summer months. Give us a break! Swimming in a fresh water clorinated pool is not the same as swimming in the ocean. Obviously you don't know the difference. In the future, please confine your ignorant opinions to subjects that you are more qualified to write about

  11. guest2

    Wonderful article! Inga, you've obviously put a lot of thought into it, and you certainly have the insight and the background for what you have written. The majority of San Diegans and La Jollans agree with you, and they now have a better background knowledge, if they didn't know before. Let's hope more of them will come forward and help encourgage people to leave the seal pups and mothers alone right now.

  12. La Jolla Resident

    This article was insulting to the honest and informed citizens of La Jolla. I'm ashamed of my hometown newspaper for running this outside of the opinion section. Perhaps there should be a section in the newspaper for the misinformed,those with political/social agendas, and the narrow minded.
    The only ones that would burn a cross on Inga's front yard are the eco-terrorists that support the animal rights activists.

  13. guest

    If you haven't seen kids on the beach, as you claim, it would not be because they didn't want to be, but that they had been chased off by animal activists like Bryan Pease, who has been down there with a bulllhorn recently, or by Andrea Hahn and Dorota Valle, who make a regular habit of Screaming at tourists, shoving video cameras in their faces, and calling them names.

    So ya, at times there may not be kids on the beach, but something tells me that if kids didn't have to worry about having rocks thrown at them by animal activists, if they didn't have to worry about having someone attack them with a stun gun, if they didn't have to worry about an animal activist filing a false police report agasinst them, if they didn't have to worry about being called obscene names by an animal activist, there would be children there a lot more.

    • lajollalight

      I would like a plead with all of you for a more civil tone in your discussions. We understand this is a very hot topic with at least two sides to the discussion, but we discourage name-calling. Thanks. — The editor.

      • shredder

        you should tell Inga to stop in the first place

      • Guest

        "we discourage name-calling. Thanks. — The editor."

        In response to the above….why did you then let Inga label beach-access advocates as part of a "Nuke the Seals faction"? I hardly find that civil.

    • ComeOnNow

      I can't imagine why the La Jolla Light posted the second paragraph as the rock throwing and stun gun and false police report allegations are simply untrue. There is enough hysteria already without making up this kind of stuff never mind trying to say that "children" are worried about it.

      • Dave

        Really? How about some FACTS ComeOnNow:

        FACT: Stun gun: Bryan Pease was arrested and plead "no contest" in a case of assault involving a stun gun at a 2004 protest at the Children's Pool

        Bryan Pease even admits this himself. ASK HIM

        False Police reports: go to 1:40 in Andrea Hahn's own video. Andrea Hahn clearly states "I WILL FILE A FALSE POLICE REPORT AGAINST YOU"

        This type of conduct is regular behavior for the anti access crowd at the children's pool. A crowd, I might add, that Inga was a part of last weekend.

        This isn't name calling, this is simple reporting of the facts, supported by video proof. These behaviors scare away tourists and locals alike and are a black eye on our beautiful community. That inga supports those people is sickening to me.

        • Guest

          That's not really what Inga said. Her column stated: "There is now a security guard at the Children's Pool to mediate warfare between the Seal Sadists and the pro-animal Sealots." (I think she was trying to make a play on words with "Zealot".) In an earlier post (above) she said: "Just to be clear, I think both sides have gone off the deep end."

      • cyberKICK

        I've actually been hit by rocks thrown by the anti-human activists. There are lots of police reports regarding their violence. However, the people using the park aren't violent, just the seal activists. VERY one-sided.

  14. Caitlin

    I guess as long as people are “coming out of the woodwork,” I might as well be one of them.

    Inga, I completely agree with your stance that it is the conflict itself that’s ruining the Children’s Pool for everyone. I feel that there’s a distinct lack of perspective to this whole issue, and that both sides need to take a step back and look at how this is making the wider community see La Jolla. See, in theory “shared use” makes sense, with people and seals treating each other with respect and dignity. Well, seals are going to act like seals, so it’s really up to people to walk the path of respect and dignity. Instead, people are gleefully skipping down the paths in every other direction, in regards to each other even more so than the seals.

    When I transferred out of La Jolla High to attend a magnet school, I discovered that my community had a reputation: sheltered, rich, entitled. As misguided as it may have been, I learned to take “You don’t seem like you’re from La Jolla” as the compliment it was intended as, and simply leave it at that. Every community has a negative stereotype, I thought to myself. And then at the Children’s Pool itself, I was told by a man behind a table that he’d rather the seawall be torn down than seals allowed use of the Pool. Wow. Sounds like an entitlement issue to me. Suddenly I understand. (This isn’t to say that the seal activists aren’t as disruptive as the divers and swimmers and what-have-you. I’m pretty much equally terrified of both sides at this point.)

    That being said, I suppose it’s important to know where I stand. That petition of La Jolla elementary schools in 1999 that showed over 90% of students in favor of leaving the seals be? That was me. I’m older now, and looking back I can see some definite flaws in the manner of information-getting I used (biased rhetoric being the most prominent), but it still lead me to an important conclusion: children weren’t clamoring to come swimming here. Adults were clamoring for their children. I’m willing to hazard a guess that this is still the case. Facts are, this isn’t the best swimming beach for kids but it is an awesome entry point for divers and fishers. So why are children still being dragged into this (even if in name only)? Why not just come at this for what it is? Add a water-entry point to the rope barrier? Some sort of compromise, a return to that path of respect and dignity? because when I go down to the Children’s Pool (which is very rarely now), I’m definitely seeing a lot of childishness. The problem is, most of it isn’t from kids.

    • Stop&look

      I for one have a son that has had the best experience of his life being able to snorkel in the Children's Pool Park. Being able to do this has sparked his interest in the ocean and the sea life. He is very passionate about the Children's Pool and has repeatedly asked me how come the people on the wall do not want to share this wonderful beach with the amazing animals that share it with us just fine. I understand that there are tourists that might not understand the need to keep a respectful distance from the seals. Maybe if the APRL and FOS would spend more time "Educating" the public instead of pumping them for money and harassing them we could have a peaceful shared use beach. One of the biggest complaints from people that I have talked to that have come to share the beach with us is that they don't like being talked to like children or harassed for using a Public Beach.One of my favorite quotes from my son that happened after he heard a woman scream at me that I was harming and abusing my child by allowing him to swim in the ocean at the Children's Pool was " Mommy, how can they claim to protect and respect nature when they refuse to experience it first hand?" I had no answer for him that day and still to this day do not understand how that can be. I challenge anyone to go out in that pool and snorkel for just 15min and not feel such joy and reverence that you got to share some time with Gods creatures in their amazing habitat. Every one needs to do research for themselves and stop listening to either side on the issue. But I will say this: Segregation does not work!! History has shown this to be true. If we are to save this planet we need to learn to SHARE it with all living things.
      Stop the Hate!!

      • Caitlin

        Back in the day when things first started out (and I was nine, so please forgive any fuzziness of memory), there was a docent group called La Jolla Friends of the Seals that was trying to do just that – educate. The beach wasn't as shared-use then, though, so there were fewer opportunities for the public to behave in ways viewed as harmful by the docents.

        I wish there was a way to show the public at large that it is possible to experience nature in a respectful way, as it sounds like you and your son have been doing, but sadly it seems like neither side of the conflict is going to take that step toward the middle. I didn't grow up snorkeling in Children's Pool, but I had similar experiences in La Jolla Cove and off the coast of Catalina that sparked an interest in marine biology that remains with me to this day, and while maybe I have qualms about the venue, I'm so happy for your son that he's having these experiences.

        It's sad. When I was younger I was all for keeping the rope up year-round and completely denying people beach access. It's so easy to have these strong opinions when you're young. Now, I understand that the peaceful place I knew when I was young is gone, and it's time to move forward. You're absolutely right – people DO need to research for themselves, and stop listening to either side. There are extremists and misinformation on both.

        My fear is that complete access to the entire beach for people year-round could eventually destroy the ability to share it, if the seals are frightened into leaving.

        • Seal teem 6

          They have not left in the 15 or so years that Sea Would introduced them there and have multiplied in numbers….

    • michael

      - I suspect that the man that stated "he’d rather the seawall be torn down than seals allowed use of the Pool." was expressing his desire that the seal extremists not win as opposed to a sense of entitlement or ill will directed at the seals. I also suspect that this man is one of many that have been continually harassed, slandered and vilafied by the extremists.
      - If you polled a group of kids that dont use the Children's Pool if they prefer seals or nothing of course they would choose seals. If you polled the same group of kids as to whether they wanted to see seals or go out for ice cream I'm certain the majority would choose ice cream. If you took that group of kids snorkeling where they could see seals and other marine life up close I would guess none of them would want to give that up or take away the experience from others. If you explained to the more environmentally conscious kids that there were too many seals next to an ecological reserve I'm sure that they would understand and question the environmental and ecological soundness of this artificial Seal World.
      - You are seeing less children these days because no one, child or adult, wants to be continually screamed at or called a "bad parent" or "seal killer". If you grew up in La Jolla surely you remember how wonderful it used to be before Susan Golding encourage Sea World to drop off 120 rehabilitated seals from other areas to boost tourists dollars in the mid 90's ?
      - If a water entry point was added the seals would surely move into that area or close which would jump start the activists into a frenzy. When swimmers and divers enter the water a lot of seals follow and congregate around them out of curiosity and to play. The seal extremists see this as harassment on the part of the swimmers and thus would start up the same old problems.
      - The seal extremists will never leave or stop there harassment because it makes them a lot of money and simply put they see humans as the "AIDS of the earth". Animal rights activists tend to get there way because they terrorize politicians, citizens and business owners to get their way until they are appeased. Thank God for the pro access groups. They will leave when the seal extremists leave.
      - I have fond memories of the Children's Pool when I was younger. I wish it could be the same again for adults and children.
      Plain and simple the problem is caused by the seal extremists.

      • Caitlin

        About the man who said he'd rather the seawall torn down: you could be right. Whether or not he's faced constant slander, I can't say; he seemed pretty calm behind his table. If he is taking that stance solely as a response to theoretical harassment, though, I still think it's pretty childish: "I can't have it my way, so no one gets to." It's not the stance I disagree with, it's the attitude – on both sides. I could get into the general sense of entitlement wherein people are dead set against ceding a single beach to seals as a matter of principle, but I know that's a point you and I disagree on. I've never heard anyone call humans the "AIDS of the earth," though, and I hope I never do – that's an awful thing to say.

        Like I said above, "definite flaws in the manner of information-getting" – I was nine myself at the time. I restricted the petition to the populations of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, and Bird Rock elementary schools because I was hoping to hear from children who DID use the pool on a regular basis. I grew up in La Jolla myself, but I was always more fond of La Jolla Shores (there were waves!) as opposed to the Children's Pool (small and boring), and if I did any learning to swim there I was too young to remember it (though I do remember Murray Callan!).

        I'm sure that if some sort of entry point was designated, the seals would figure out enough to leave it alone. The videos most commonly cited by the APRL volunteers are of people charging down the middle of the beach, scattering seals left and right: their right, yes, but certainly not necessary for an enjoyable diving experience. In the water the seals are free to come and go as they please, and I'm sure that some of them are intrigued by their human dive partners. My point is, both sides need to give some ground or this is only going to deteriorate further. I remember hearing about an incident a few years ago where a man threatened to break a volunteer's arm when she went to replace the rope barrier he'd taken down. There's harassment coming from both sides, and there's so little common courtesy being shown by anyone down at the Pool that absolutely no progress can be made.

    • npk32

      Well-written and completely reasonable. Prepare for an onslaught of conspiracy theories mixed with utter nonsense in response.

      • Caitlin

        Maybe the absence of such (at least in response to my comment) is a sign that people kind of get it.

  15. Guest

    "Nuke the Seals faction"? Wow. While I can respect divergent opinions, and obviously this is a hot-button issue that has become even more polarized over the last few years, statements like these do NOTHING to work toward a legitimate resolution of the issue.

    Please do NOT categorize people who want to keep the beach open to people as part of some so-called "Nuke the Seals faction." I don't (personally) know a single beach-access advocate who hates seals the way you seem to suggest. Wanting to allow public access to a public beach is a far cry from wanting to "nuke the seals." Comments like this one just further suggest how out of touch you are with the issue, and how intolerant you are of those who don't share your views.

    • Guest09

      There are plenty of people in La Jolla who want to "nuke the seals". And they are not shy about saying so.

    • Guest09

      There are no lack of "factions" regarding the seals. Among the reasons people cite as being against them are increased traffic and tourists, pollution, depleting fish near the coast, possibility of attracting sharks, fear that seals will expand into other beaches, their smell, the fact that it was created for a specific purpose by Ellen B. Scripps, that the seals disrupt divers and spearfishermen etc. etc. Some of these people are not interested in shared access but just want to see the seals gone. Others are OK with shared access and do OK with the seals but other shared access people would still prefer thta they be gone so the beach would be cleaher for people. Many different opinions and agendas.

  16. Eric Stewart

    Such a shame what has happened to the "Children's Cove." I am a native San Diegan that grew up swimming and snorkeling both the Children's Cove and the Cove. I still dive, surf, and kayak our local waters frequently. Unfortunately, I won't be able to teach my two little girls how to snorkel in a safe and protected area. Seals have done fine without the man made structure and they would do just fine in the future without it.

  17. Bird Rock Native

    What really needs to be done is to get rid of the obnoxious seal activists. I would imagine that in their absence a fair balance between humans and seals would exist, but the activists exist for the sole purpose of making noise and drawing attention to themselves. It is more satisfying for the activists to do this silly "advocacy" than it is for them to go out and be productive members of society.

    Activists GO HOME!

  18. Hugh BM

    Tiolet Bowl pool full of poop for poopie people. Go poop yourselved.

  19. Davy Jones

    Why are the rating numbers support shared use over no use….

  20. Seal teem 6

    Now I no why Inga covers her face… because of her filthy mouth !!!
    Your husband was right, you shouldn't have wrote…

  21. Reality

    I was there today and whoa – crazy animal activists that have nothing better to do than lie to prevent people and children from enjoying the view, the sand and the water. I applaud the spear fisherman and the awesome crowd of folks serving up free fish tacos to the crowd!

    I agree 110% with Bird Rock native, What really needs to be done is to get rid of the obnoxious seal activists

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