As Children’s Pool rope comes down, seal advocates continue push for year-round barrier

Dist. 1 City Council Candidates Bryan Pease (center) and Dennis Ridz joined forces May 15 to support a year-round rope barrier at Children's Pool to keep humans and seals separated. A six-month rope barrier, which is up during the seals' pupping season, came down earlier in the day. Pat Sherman photos

By Pat Sherman

On May 15, as a six-month rope barrier meant to separate humans and seals at Children’s Pool was removed, advocates for keeping the barrier up year-round met above the iconic beach to state their case — most notably, a Republican and Democratic vying for the Dist. 1 San Diego City Council seat.

Hours after the rope barrier came down, attorney Bryan Pease, a Democrat, and Dennis Ridz, a Republican and chair of the Torrey Pines planning board, held a joint press conference to discuss the issue. The candidates say the absence of a rope barrier during the summer poses a danger to both seals and humans.

Though incumbent Dist. 1 Councilwoman Sherri Lightner initially voted in committee to keep the rope up year-round, Pease and Ridz blasted Lightner for voting against the rest of her colleagues when the issue came before the full City Council.

“Our message is simple,” Pease said. “If you want this mismanaged situation here, where people are encouraged to get way too closed to resting seals, vote for Sherri Lightner. If you want a better managed situation and you want to have a safe distance between people and seals, and protect our natural resources, vote for Pease or vote for Ridz. We’re both in favor of protecting this natural treasure in La Jolla and the rest of the city council is also in favor of it and voted two years ago to put this rope barrier up year-round.”

San Diego’s Planning Commission rejected permits for the year-round rope in December 2010, claiming that it prevented full beach access — a decision Pease said Lightner orchestrated behind the scenes.

“I had to sue the planning commission to overturn that decision,” he said.

The California coastal commission is set to rule on whether to allow a permit for a  year-round rope on July 11.

City Council candidates Dennis Ridz (left) and Bryan Pease agree that a year-round rope barrier should be established at Children's Pool. Both Dist. 1 city council candidates characterized incumbent Sherri Lightner as the lone obstructionist on the council preventing the year-round barrier.

Ridz focussed on what he called “an inordinate amount of time and money” being spent negotiating the issue via lawsuits. The City Council declared the situation to be a coastal emergency in 2010, though the city attorney decided only the mayor can make that determination.

“My understanding now is the only one who can put the rope back, if you will, is the mayor — who doesn’t seem to want to be involved,” Ridz said.

Ridz questioned whether the city has the proper liability insurance to cover injuries to humans if they are bitten or attacked by seals, which can be especially territorial during mating season.

“People don’t understand that these are wild animals and the pups are going to be protected by their mothers, just like the picture of that little girl,” he said, noting one of several photos depicting incidences when curious humans wandered too close to seals. “One second she’s there with her mother, the next she’s gone over to pet what looks like a big dog. Someone’s going to get hurt and we don’t need that.”

Ridz said he began to favor a year-round barrier several years ago, after attending mettings of the San Diego City Council and its various subcommittees, where the issue was discussed at length.

“We are stewards of the land, water, sea and the animals that are within it,” he said. “I thought, we have this solved, and my council member basically went against what we were trying to do.”

Asked for a response, Lightner e-mailed a statement  through council aide Jennifer Davies.

“My goal at the Children’s Pool has always been the same – to try to keep the peace so that locals, visitors and the seals are able to safely enjoy the beach,” the statement read. “That is why I found a private donor to fund a Ranger program to help educate and mediate.”

During pupping season, as would be the case with a year-round barrier, the public is allowed limited beach access for sunbathing, as well as a a three-foot strip down the east side of the beach to access the water, which is primarily intended for use by divers.

Seal advocate Dr. Jane Reldan (left, in blue) listened as diver David Johnson spoke to media in support of full human access to the Children's Pool during the summer.

Jane Reldan, a volunteer with La Jolla Friends of the Seals, noted that the beach has been deemed unsafe for swimmers county health officials.

“This beach has a constant advisory because of the pollution,” she said noting a posted warning sign about high coliform counts, partly due to seal excrement and a drainage pipe that runs down Jenner Street and empties onto the beach at Children’s Pool. Both elements are tapped by a pedestrian sea wall along the western border of Children’s Pool that is used for observation.

“I swim at the cove and there’s no problem … because the water washes in and out,” Reldan said. “The sea lions are all over (La Jolla Cove) and there’s no problem (with fecal contamination).”

Diver David Johnson, who does not support a year-round barrier, took advantage of the rope-free beach access May 15, diving at Children’s Pool during the press conference. Johnson said he often swims at La Jolla’s Shell Beach, though he was “too tired” that day and the waves at Shell Beach there were too strong.

“I had no problem with the rope as it was” during pupping season, Johnson said. “It’s good that it’s down because it’s not necessary. This is a legal city beach. These people drive us off in the middle of the summer when there are no seals on the beach. In the summer (the seal advocates) say the seals would be here if we would just be off the beach — and it’s just not true. In the summer there’s very few seals here, in the winter there’s more. It’s just a cycle.

Pease said he expects the Coastal Commission to approve the year-round rope, though he and other seal advocates are asking the people who prefer a year-round rope to write the Coastal Commission prior to July 11, expressing their support.

To voice your opinion to the Coastal Commission, pro or con, send a letter  to the California Coastal Commission C/O File6-11-078, 7575 Metropolitan Drive, #103, San Diego, CA 92108-4402

For more information on the year-round rope barrier effort, visit lajollafriendsoftheseals.org

Related posts:

  1. Children’s Pool seal rope barrier cut; seal advocates cry foul
  2. New ranger set to start work at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool
  3. La Jolla Children’s Pool: Seal pup born, lawsuit filed over guideline rope
  4. Planning Commission denies year-round rope barrier for La Jolla Children’s Pool
  5. Children’s Pool waters reopened for swimming

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=73610

Posted by Pat Sherman on May 16, 2012. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News, Seal Watch. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

8 Comments for “As Children’s Pool rope comes down, seal advocates continue push for year-round barrier”

  1. Resta Dastory

    GREAT NEWS! The 12 people voting for either of these folks will be thrilled with this shameless photo op at CHILDREN'S pool……

    • Bob Ewing

      Shared use is the right thing to implement. Year round access to the water for humans. It is called the Children's Pool for a reason.The good doctor and the joke for the legal profession are less then truthful.

  2. rhyne

    Dear La Jolla Light… it would be fantastic if you would take the time to dig just a little deeper than the stories Bryan Pease feeds you. Specifically, take a look at the trust that legally binds the city of San Diego to keep this beach open FOR HUMAN ACCESS AND FISHING. Pease, APRL, FOS and Dennis RIDZ are using your willingness to print this nonsense to forward their ill-balanced cause. There are straight forward legal boundaries that Pease is trying to change to protect animals that are not endangered. Shared use has worked forever at this beach. There have not been any injuries as mentioned above as being a reason for us to be worried about liability. These eco-terrorists are just trying to further infiltrate our political system knowing very well that if they manipulate the city of San Diego into closing this beach that their anti-human efforts elsewhere will have much more power behind them. Stop supporting these kooks La Jolla Light. They are a disease in our community.

  3. bigdipper

    They lobbied the City to get a rope up all year, then the City found its own procedures would not allow it. Pease sued the City and the City Attorney ducked out of it by crafting a settlement giving Pease just what he wanted. The Judge never ruled, the CA threw the case. All that time they complained the rope was not being enforced and was not working so what we need is 12 months of what doesn't work instead of 5. What an entertaining town. Meanwhile we have more seals than ever, so they must like us.

  4. Davy Jones

    This just in,
    Fisherman files suit over access at Children's Pool case # 37-2012 00096556-cu-mc-ctl
    looks like another lawsuit because the city has reluctantly agreed to follow the terms of the trust.

  5. Resta Dastory

    couldn't the LIGHT have also pointed out these ECO-TERRORISTS are also attempting to have the CHILDREN'S POOL Closed year round to humans too? I mean that is public knowledge and give a LIb Eco Freak and inch and they want a mile….see the Delta Smelt!

  6. guest

    Bryan, please do all the animals you advocate for a favor and take some time off or get yourself some professional counseling. By dedicating your life to exposing the horrors of animal cruelty it goes without saying the affect that will have on emotion, mental well-being not to mention attitude towards humans. But if you do not make some significant and immediate changes to the public perception of your tactics then you will continue to do the animals more harm than good.

    This news piece here is another sorry attempt for media self promotion and truly nothing more. You have stated publicly that you do not consider yourself to be a serious candidate for San Diego District 1, merely wanting to expose current City Councilwoman for her lack of protection to the environment. It is not admirable to make a mockery of the election you are disingenuously campaigning in. This is not how reasonable, respected, educated leaders in a community lead or inspire others to join in their crusade. You are capable of much more nobility and self respect, take the time to find the internal peace you are clearly so in need of. Animals need responsible advocates/leaders to be strong, healthy and well.

  7. Davy Jones

    La Jolla Friends of the Seals, Jane Reldan," noted that the beach has been deemed unsafe for swimmers county health officials", Jane, I here there is a beach clean up this weekend on May 26, and if you are a Doctor maybe you and your members of LFoS should join in on the clean up and help pick up the seal Poop so our children will have a clean healthy beach to play and swim in !

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