Restaurateur starts online petition to force action on La Jolla Cove stench
By Pat Sherman
“The Cove used to be my favorite place to spend the day. Now, the smell keeps us away!”
So wrote Solana Beach resident Cynthia Walsh at about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday — one of the many cutting posts by more than 550 people who have signed an online petition titled, “Sherri Lightner, Council- person District 1: Clean up the bird excrement at the La Jolla Cove.”
More than an hour later, Shannon Califano, a special events manager at La Valencia Hotel, signed the petition, noting the “horrible, permeating smell — not good for clients, local businesses, restaurants, the tourists and overall La Jolla.”
George Hauer, owner of George’s at the Cove restaurant on Prospect Street, started the petition about a week ago, after hearing a presentation by Change.org CEO Ben Rattray during The Atlantic Meets the Pacific conference at UC San Diego. Change.org is an online website that hosts sponsored social justice and activist campaigns.
“I think any time you need to get the attention of the people … to make a decision, doing it alone doesn’t do enough,” Hauer told the La Jolla Light. “Coalitions work better.”
The petition, which will be delivered to Lightner once it reaches 1,000 signatures, states: “The cormorant (bird) colony at the La Jolla Cove has reached critical mass with their excrement. The smell is overtaking the entire Village. The result is a loss of business and a potential public health disaster.”
Hauer said he has reached out to someone in Scripps’ charitable giving department and hopes to have the matter evaluated further for its potential health impacts on residents and visitors.
“I’ve got 20 to 30 people leaving the restaurant every day, saying we can’t eat in these circumstances,” Hauer said. “We had a lady literally throw up at a table the other day she was so nauseated” from the ammonia smell.
Hauer’s plea to city officials? “Save us from the indignity of having to smell the bird excrement every day,” before the spring heat arrives, further exacerbating the problem.
The stench emitted from bird guano was also discussed at the Oct. 22 meeting of La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc., whose members said the stench could be smelled all the way to Pearl Street last week.
The group also feels the problem should be approached as a potential health hazard, though LJP&B board President Patrick Ahern said he felt Councilwoman Lightner was working to address the problem by meeting with various government agencies with a stake in the solution.
“She’s been doing a lot, actually,” he said. “I think Sherri probably signed the petition, too.”
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