Restaurateur starts online petition to force action on La Jolla Cove stench

Pelican and cormorant excrement is causing a foul stench at La Jolla Cove, which has worsened during the past six months. (Light File Photo)

To sign the petition
■ Visit and type ‘La Jolla’ in the search browser. The petition is the third on the list. Or click here.

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 CEO Ben Rattray during The Atlantic Meets the Pacific conference at UC San Diego. 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.”

George Hauer on the patio of George's at the Cove restaurant, which is perched above La Jolla Cove on Prospect Street. Photo by Pat Sherman

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.”

Related posts:

  1. Officials stall on Cove stench cleanup in La Jolla
  2. Stench entrenched: deodorizing Cove will require time, money and bureaucratic buy-in
  3. City says no to stench ‘cleanser’ at La Jolla Cove
  4. La Jolla, Del Mar: Rebounding retail markets face their own challenges
  5. Valet compromise offered for La Jolla’s Prospect Street

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Oct 23, 2012. Filed under Featured Story, 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

14 Comments for “Restaurateur starts online petition to force action on La Jolla Cove stench”

  1. James

    The rain didn't do enough?

  2. PBSurfer

    It's "natural", just like the sea lions at Children's Pool. If we have to put up with the sea lions, then you have to put up with the bird stink.

  3. jim neri

    guano collection during the non-nesting season could provide summer jobs for high schoolers and revenues from 'Jewel-doo' fertilizer for your garden.

  4. John M. Dowd

    Get a pump, pump the seawater up on to the cliffs, use hoses to spray the cliffs down. The organic material/excrement goes in to the ocean. It is using the ocean to return to the ocean what will be cleaned up by the ocean.

    No chemicals, just seawater.

    It will work.

  5. sandi m

    stupid seal should not be there either. That was given to the children of San Diego, and all these activist seem to forget that. I grew up on that beach and I hate what has been done to it. And now the bird stench…. wow La Jolla is a great place to go.

  6. dena

    Harvest the guano and sell it as fertilizer bringing income as well as continual cleanup. Win/win.

  7. peteralake

    Rent a hurricane like Sandy.
    We can lend you ours, even though it's pretty used now.

  8. Rachel

    Has it ever been cleaned before? If not, then how many years did it take to get to this level of awfulness?

  9. This is just so sick and disgusting Sherri has to do something about it. I go to Georges and now I will not because of the smell. Every time I'm on floor time at my office, "Prudential" I hear people ask, "what's that smell," as they're looking at our front window. It's really bad.

  10. Good job George for taking a stand, really. This has got to stop and funds need to be allocated to do something about it.

  11. Darlene

    I've lived in the area for over 25 years and it's only since the "animal rights" groups began their protests that there has been any problem with the overwhelming stench from the birds and seals. Seals were not usually seen all the way up the LJ coastal walk, only at the "Childrens Beach". Since that has been givin over to the seals they have also taken over the entire area, as have the birds. LJ has, lierally, gone to the birds. Glad I live in Del Mar!

  12. Paula

    Cormorant colonies are the most foul smelling areas you can possibly imagine. Beside the overwhelming inescapable stench, they destroy habitant for other seabirds, and their populations multiple very rapidly. Unfortunately, the laws subject everyone to their stench unabated. This will not end well for La Jolla, as within 5 years their swelling population will cause the entire downtown area to smell like hades. Good luck.

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