La Jolla merchants’ group counters claim that Cove odor is gone

Blue Eagle crews work on La Jolla Cove during their first round of cleanup earlier this year. The second round took place in September. Light File

By Pat Sherman

Though District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner and a representative from the Park and Recreation department told La Jolla Light this month that a second round of cliff cleanup in September had diminished pungent odors from bird guano at La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Village Merchants Association board members refuted those claims during their Oct. 9 meeting.

After more than a year kowtowing to environmental regulations, city officials finally contracted Blue Eagle Distribution to apply a bioactive foam to the excrement-encrusted Cove cliffs that digests the bird guano, leaving virtually no residue or runoff.

Retired attorney Mark Evans, who has served as a liaison between the community and city and government officials to find a solution, said former Mayor Bob Filner, “basically plowed through … a lot of hemming and hawing among city officials.”

“He issued an emergency declaration saying this has to be solved right away because it’s a threat to public health and safety,” Evans said. “He took aggressive action and promised us that this was just an interim step, and that he was committed to finding a permanent solution. The first round of treatment (over the summer) actually helped,” Evans said.

“It did reduce the odor quite significantly, but it didn’t last, because the birds are still there. On days when the wind is blowing the right way I’m still smelling it.”

Gail Forbes (standing with Mark Evans) said the wood fence above La Jolla Cove includes wire that keeps varmints such as possums, raccoons and foxes off the cliffs. Nighttime varmints prevent birds from roosting and defecating on the rocks, she said. Pat Sherman

The consensus among residents and business owners engaged in finding a solution, Evans said, is that the “simplest, most direct, least costly and likely most effective solution is to remove the fence (or add a gate to it).”

Prior to the fence being erected in the 1970s, people were free to walk down onto the bluffs — which community members say kept birds from roosting and nesting there.

La Jolla architect Claude-Anthony Marengo, who was voted onto the LJVMA board of directors during the Oct. 9 meeting — to be seated with six other new members in November encouraged the LJVMA board and those of other community advisory groups in La Jolla to meet with lifeguards to obtain their support for fence removal.

Marengo suggested adding a sign at the top of the bluffs or on a gate stating “enter at your own risk.”

“I think that will help release the city from its liability,” he said.

Evans said old footpaths leading from the sidewalk on Coast Boulevard down to the rocks remain in place. “The solution is to let people back on the rocks — just reopen public access,” he said. “There may be other solutions, but that’s the one that strikes us at this point as the most feasible.”

Evans suggested someone at the city — most likely Interim Mayor Todd Gloria — take another bold step to solve the problem in a timely manner.

Lena Lewis, a representative from the interim mayor’s office who attended the meeting, said she would convey the request to Gloria.

Merchants Association members hear from Angela Chen about a ‘Clear and Green’ program to promote environmentally sustainable practices in the Village.

In other LJVMA news
Clear and Green: Merchants considered a program that would help business owners incorporate environmentally sustainable business practices, and goals for achieving more substantial ones, to their customers.

“We found that in La Jolla Village there are already 45 vendors who have sustainable features,” project spokesperson Angela Chen said. “We think there are more; they’re just not being very public about it.”

The cost for those who participate is $200. Sustainability experts from UC San Diego and ProductBio will visit merchants to assess what needs to be done to make their business more environmentally friendly.

Participating merchants will receive a poster from ProductBio and local sustainable printshop CoveCopy to display in their window signifying participation in the program, in time for a ribbon cutting and program launch on Earth Day, April 22, 2014.

Businesses may sign up through Nov. 15 and find more information at

Related posts:

  1. Cracking Up: La Jolla merchants group again admonishes shopkeepers to fix sidewalks
  2. Mayor declares first round of La Jolla Cove stench cleanup a success
  3. UPDATED (Jan. 25): Webcam to monitor seals installed at La Jolla Children’s Pool
  4. Governor responds to La Jolla Cove stench issue; city plans to vacuum offending bird waste
  5. Village Merchants name new director, locate new office and visitor site

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Oct 15, 2013. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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