Petition signatures spike as Cove stink reaches nauseating fever pitch throughout La Jolla Village

Something stomach-wrenching this way comes ... (Light File Photo)

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By Pat Sherman

An online petition urging city officials and District 1 San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner to take action against the pervasive, nauseating odor smelled throughout the Village reached its intended 1,000 and will be delivered to Lightner’s office.

The stench emanating from La Jolla Cove, caused by a buildup of cormorant, pelican and sea lion excrement on rocks and the shoreline is causing tourists and customers to flee the Village, say business owners like Jim Lavi of Daniel Gift on Prospect Street.

Lavi said the smell has grown so bad the past three weeks that his customers say they will not return to the Village until the “lousy smell” is under control.

“They don’t want to stay,” he said. “We spray air freshener, but it doesn’t help. The merchants, they pay a lot to the city, but we don’t see any action.”

Lavi questions why a fire truck can’t be used to pressure wash the rocks.

On the travel website, a user from Seawall’s Point, Florida recounted her October hotel stay in the Village, noting that she specifically chose a hotel overlooking scenic La Jolla Cove.

The “outrageous, noxious odor … would come and go throughout the day and night, and honestly take your breath away,” she wrote. “If we weren’t so exhausted from traveling we would have left ASAP. … I appreciate that the hotel is not at fault, however, I cannot imagine having to smell that odor ever again.”

Signing the petition Oct. 26, La Jollan Joan Schultz called the odor “disgusting.”

“We pay more taxes to the city than most communities,” she wrote, addressing the candidates for mayor and City Council District 1. “If you want our vote, this would be a good way for you to show that La Jollans should vote for you.”

The petition, started by restaurateur George Hauer (George’s at the Cove), requests that the city address the issue posthaste.

Dan Robinette, a senior scientist with Petaluma-based PRBO Conservation Science, is part of a group currently studying La Jolla’s cormorant colony

He said he suspects that the more pungent ex- crement is coming from sea lions, though he said the smell of the cormorant (bird) excrement could be exacerbated by weather conditions.

“The cormorants may be a little more abundant than the others so they’re getting the bulk of the blame,” he said. “Starting around the mid-’90s, we did start seeing an increase of cormorant breeding along the mainland, whereas prior to that there were higher numbers out at the offshore islands.”

Though he said there has always been a Brandt’s cormorant colony at La Jolla Cove, it has grown substantially in recent years, likely due to the availability of prey such as small fish, squid and sand crabs.

“They seem pretty established from what we can see, so unless there’s some major changes in prey availability in the area, I don’t see them leaving,” Robinette said. “But who knows? … We’re just stating to document population size,” and potential disturbances to the colony by human activity, he said.

Robinette said he doesn’t believe there is any potential adverse health risks from the cormorant guano.

However, a study of fecal contamination in the salt marshes of Martha’s Vineyard by University of New Hampshire professor Stephen Jones identified cormorants as a significant source of E. coli bacteria.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, microscopic Cryptococcus neoformans fungal spores are found in the droppings of pigeons and some bird species. They can become airborne and cause lung infections or more serious diseases in those with weakened immune systems.

Though the cormorant was once nearly hunted to extinction, they now invade coastal cliffs, devouring fish and covering the coast with offal.

Several online bird deterrent providers suggest threatening-looking bird spikes as an effective deterrent, as well as mesh netting and devices that have tentacles that flail in the breeze and cause a threatening, visual distraction.

Related posts:

  1. Restaurateur starts online petition to force action on La Jolla Cove stench
  2. Editorial: Election Job No. 1 should be to clean the La Jolla Cove stench
  3. Officials stall on Cove stench cleanup in La Jolla
  4. Stench entrenched: deodorizing Cove will require time, money and bureaucratic buy-in
  5. Sherri Lightner to assemble officials to solve La Jolla Cove stench problem

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Nov 1, 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

5 Comments for “Petition signatures spike as Cove stink reaches nauseating fever pitch throughout La Jolla Village”

  1. Resta DaStory

    Sherri is too busy campaigning to care….how sad she turned her back on her own neighborhood…..

  2. Serge

    I hate to be a one-issue voter, but this might be the exception. I'm deeply dismayed at the apparent lack of concern/action from Lightner's office on this issue. If they are doing anything, it's in stealth mode. What's the point of that?

  3. If la Jolla ever had a jewel, its our awesomely interesting and wild cove… and the sea lions, seals, cormorants, and pelicans are the golden geese laying that treasure. The underwater beauty in part owes much to these new characters. Entertaining harebrained notions cleaning off these haul-outs and chasing off our wildlife are short-sighted. Tormenting this beleaguered wildlife is criminal. An actual federal case.

  4. Tony

    The close up beauty of marine life (Pelicans, Cormorants and Sea Lions) is spectacular, but so is the aroma of nature. La Jolla Cove is part of a State Marine Reserve. The Cove is also part of an Area of Sensitive Biological Significance; that may require special permits to allow, much less, concentrate urban runoff in to the Marine Reserve. Mechanical washing of the bluffs could create a concentration of biological waste with potential negative impacts on sea life as well as swimmers. Pray for a good rain storm and huge waves to wash to bluffs naturally; and be glad an early 20th century concept to make the La Jolla Cove and Bay a large harbor by extending a concrete sea wall from Alligator Head toward the Scripps Pier failed along with the La Jolla Yacht Club…otherwise you would be smelling and listening to diesel engines and jet skis instead of Sea Lions and Gulls.

  5. It isn't the stink at the Cove that is going to drive tourism away it is the in-action of the La Jolla Town Council and the La Jolla Merchants Association to correct an evil injustice done to a citizen of fifty years here in San Diego. This 'will" effect your economy "if" nothing is done to bring justice and to correct this "Criminal Enterprise" masquerading as "Law and Order"..
    Read what happened at: <a href="” target=”_blank”>
    A "CBS 60 Minutes program may just be in the offing".

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