Opening sluiceways proposed again as way to clean Children’s Pool

Ken Hunrichs discusses the possibility of opening sluiceways along the Children’s Pool seawall to clean the beach and remove excess sand. Pat Sherman

What do you think?
Should the city re-open long-dormant sluice gates on the seawall at Children’s Pool to clean the contaminated sand? Share your thoughts in a letter to the editor by e-mailing

By Pat Sherman

At its May 21 meeting, Parks and Beaches approved sending a letter to the city’s director of parks and recreation, Stacey LoMedico, asking that the city “investigate the benefits of re-opening one or more of the four existing sluiceways (or sluice gates) in the Children’s Pool seawall as a mitigation measure to correct the excessive buildup of contaminated sand.”

A rope separating seals and humans during the seals’ six-month pupping season came down May 15. Proponents of keeping the rope up year-round note that the county health department has determined the water and sand at Children’s Pool to be unhealthy for human use, largely due to contamination from seal excrement.

Those who are advocating for full, year-round human access to Children’s Pool feel that opening the sluiceways would flush the beach out and make it clean enough for human use, removing one of the seal advocates’ trump arguments for a year-round rope barrier.

Parks and Beaches member and seal advocate Jane Reldan said that after the seawall was constructed in 1930, under the guidance of hydraulic engineer Hiram Newton Savage, the sluiceways were immediately closed due to the excessive amount of sand that was being flushed out to sea. Concrete was later poured into the sluicegates to seal them off, and parts of them were removed. During the late ’70s, when the walkway atop the seawall was rebuilt, access points where the gates could be lowered and raised were covered over.

“If it is determined that this measure is technically not possible then we would ask for your staff to prepare an alternative plan to mitigate the sand and water quality issues at the site,” the letter states, in part.

One committee member chimed in, stating that not using the sluice gates was like having a car without using its brakes. “There’s a purpose to the sluiceways in the wall and they’ve never been used,” she said.

It was noted that a proposal was made several years ago to remove contaminated sand and seal waste from the Children’s Pool beach, though the city denied the request based on potential environmental impacts.

“I think you’re going to get the same answer back because you’re just going to have the same issues,” another committee member said. “I don’t see that it’s beneficial.”

Parks and Beaches member Ken Hunrichs noted a study conducted by Testing Engineers-San Diego in 1998, which demonstrated the feasibility of reviving use of the sluice gates.

He said reinstallation of the gates would allow for movement of water and sand in a “natural manner.”

“It appears as though (the city) never really gave much of a chance for the gates to be open and closed,” he said.

The California Coastal Commission is set to hear the city’s petition for a permit allowing a year-round rope at its July 11-13 hearing.

Chairman Patrick Ahern suggested moving discussion of the sluicegates to a later date, perhaps September, after the Coastal Commission had made its decision.

In other committee action
• Liability insurance

Parks and Beaches Vice-president Dan Allen discussed the possibility of Parks and Beaches obtaining liability insurance. He said he felt it was not warranted since the group doesn’t hold regular events or workshops where it would expose itself to liability. The group also has little money in its bank account, he said.

“I think we need to look at this in a new light because, as I will soon report, we will have money very soon,” said Treasurer Phyllis Minick, noting a recent $5,000 donation to the group’s Coast Boulevard Walk beautification project from Dr. and Mrs. Jafar and Sophia Farnam.

“I think there are so many issues around this area that garner lawsuits, and several members have spoken to me about some of the risks of our many projects. If I’m going to be out running around asking people for money, I’d like to know that I’m not placing all of us in a state of risk.”

Parks and Beaches recently established a page on the San Diego Foundation’s website where people can obtain information about the nonprofit organization and make a donation.

To view the page, go to, click on “find an organization,” and type in La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc.

• Taste at the Cove
The group also gave its blessing to the San Diego Sports Foundation’s annual Taste at the Cove event, slated for Sept. 6, which raises money for the rehabilitation of injured youth athletes.

Related posts:

  1. Children’s Pool gets a cross of sea grass
  2. Coastal Commission staff looking at Children’s Pool jurisdiction issue
  3. SeaWorld staff treating injured seal from La Jolla’s Children’s Pool
  4. Seal pup rescued at Children’s Pool dies
  5. Advisory group pleased with ranger at Children's Pool

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Jun 7, 2012. Filed under 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

10 Comments for “Opening sluiceways proposed again as way to clean Children’s Pool”

  1. Dorota

    Will this obsession with getting rid of the seals ever end? Why are people who don't even live in our community, like Ken Hunrichs care about this particular beach? This is not normal. Also, don't you love how they call themselves "Park and Beaches" imitating the name "Park and Rec" and trying to imply that they are governmental, not private organization? Get a life.

    • resident

      sounds like your the pot calling the kettle black Dorota. How many hours a week do you spend shouting lies over a bull horn at tourists and imitating officials as if you know the law?… and certainly you know that the bullhorn you use is illegal here and does more to scare the seals than humans being on the beach. Clearly if the law was being broken as often as you claim then enforcement officers would be doing something about it.
      Plain and simple… and I think we'd both agree… the city is not doing their job in regards to maintaining a safe public beach.

    • cyberKICK

      I don't understand Dorota, nowhere in the article does it say anything about removing seals, just their waste! What is your concern with keeping seal waste in the pool/park?

      Also, it is the currents and access to fishing areas that this pool allows divers to enter that is much more dangerous from other places. If you would get in the water you would know. It is easy for you to stay on dry land and tell divers where to swim.

      Finally, it is called Parks and Beaches because that is what they are working with. What else would they call themselves? Beaches and Parks?

  2. David Pierce

    Pat Sherman of the Light,
    I would like to make a correction,
    Jane Reldan is not a member of La Jolla Park and Beaches.

  3. bigdipper

    The City denied the EIR to remove sand and restore the beach because it did not want to spend the money. The sluicegates were one of several considerations, and none were accepted. (or rejected officially) Letting the sea clean and flush the sand naturally per the original sea wall design also lets the seals have clean sand and water. If their "contamination" hurts anything it will be the seals, from sleeping in their own germs and parasites. I swim with seals and let them play with me all the time and don't get sick. Seal pathogens do not thrive in humans. They thrive in seals. The City exploits the seals for a tourist attraction with no concern for their health.

  4. Seal Team 6

    Look who talking Dorota, your from Poland, APRL sets you up in La Jolla so you don't have a long drive to harass people off a man made beach for children, your so brain washed you think everyone is trying to rid the seals,when all they want is a clean safe environment for both people and seal to share.
    Why are you so selfish, why can't you share?

  5. Michael

    The citizens of La Jolla do not have a problem with seals, Dorota….They have a problem with you and the APRL. Misanthropic animal-rights extremists like you have ruined what used to be a wonderful place…THE CHILDREN'S POOL….Please go away….

  6. resident

    lets be clear here too… the city does not have the authority to close this beach. It's clearly stated in the trust. The City can vocalize all of it's wishes til the cows come home. The "save the seals" organizations can spend their whole lives trying to save animals that are not even endangered, but in fact are a growing population. I feel sorry for these silly activists actually… too bad they don't focus all of that passion on some creatures that actually need saving. but again, that's no surprise since they're really just there to collect their $3-400,000 /yr tax free pay that they scam from mis-informed tourists.
    Hopefully the city will break free of the hold these lunatic fringe groups have created after years of suing the city and do what's right for the community and the seals. Shared use works. Shared use is protected by the law. All sidewalk vending should be banned from this area.

  7. abuse_of_legal_systm

    Dorota, if it weren't so obvious that you, Bryan Pease and APRL have found so called "saving the seals" to be such an incredibly lucrative source of income then maybe you would have some more credibility.

    APRL, Dorota, please stop suing the city and essentially embezzling tax payers to support your thinly veiled excuse for a 9-3 paid shift where you clock in and clock out.

  8. Bob Ewing

    I was born here in San Diego. Since when did residing anywhere in San Diego save for La Jolla exclude one from beach access. Saving the Children's Pool for children and adults is worth a long, long fight and it is the right thing to do. Excluding human access to that of resting seals is a very bizarre position. You should really take a look at your involvement in your unworthy goals. You are an embarrassment to us locals. We have tolerated seals in our waters and our beaches long before you were you born. We love them too and our children more. Seals are like pigeons that are spooked to flight only to return. You would not know that Dorota because you are not from here.

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