Pupping season beach closure at La Jolla Children’s Pool up for council vote

Jane Reldan of La Jolla Friends of the Seals and political consultant Adrian Kwiatkowski stop by La Jolla Light to advocate for the winter closure of Children’s Pool/Casa Beach, which comes to a city council vote on Oct. 29. Pat Sherman Photos

By Pat Sherman

The San Diego City Council will vote on a proposal to close Children’s Pool beach (aka Casa Beach) during the seals’ winter pupping season, 2 p.m. Oct. 29 at city council chambers, 202 C. St. (12th floor) in downtown San Diego. The public may attend and fill out speaker slips to comment before the vote.

In September, the city’s Planning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend the city council adopt an ordinance that would close the beach to all human access during the seals’ five-month pupping season (Dec. 15-May 15).
In May 2010, the city council voted 6-2 for the winter beach closure, though subsequent challenges sidelined its wishes.

The proposed ordinance would declare the area an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA), and require a coastal development permit and amendments to the Local Coastal Plan. Beach access would be restricted via a post-and-chain barrier and signage halfway down the concrete steps leading to the beach.

Jane Reldan of La Jolla Friends of the Seals, which advocated for the closure, stopped by the La Jolla Light office last week with political consultant Adrian Kwiatkowski, whom the group recently hired to represent itself.

Seal advocates gained a victory earlier this year when the city installed a year-round guideline rope across the beach, meant to keep humans a safe distance from seals. The rope plan  must be reviewed by the California Coastal Commission and renewed at the end of three years.

Reldan reiterated her group’s belief that the closure is necessary to protect pregnant seals and their pups during the winter.  She said mother seals often face the “Sophie’s Choice” of having to abandon their pups, or face “a stampede of panic by all the other seals.”

“Once they get scared, they get scared,” Reldan said. “They don’t distinguish between people wanting to photograph them and people wanting to touch them … or someone who really wants to harm them.”

If a seal is abandoned during the first 48 hours after it is born, Reldan said, it remains abandoned on the beach.  “It’s really a cruel fate and it’s preventable,” she said. “If we prevent the problem of people going on the beach, we will not have abandoned pups.”

From March 10 to May 15 of this year, when former mayor Bob Filner ordered the nighttime closure of Children’s Pool beach, there was an 85 percent reduction in the number of seal harassment incidents (from 14 to 2), Reldan said. The winter closure being proposed would not include closure of the adjacent seawall — a popular spot from which the public views the seals.

However, beach access proponents maintain that closing Children’s Pool during the winter is the wrong course of action.

“We do still think there is a better way to manage this unique resource,” said Friends of the Children’s Pool president Ken Hunrichs, who advocates joint use.

In a letter to city council members dated Aug. 18, Hunrichs said the “creative but unjustified designation of the Children’s Pool as an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area” is “full of flaws.”

Hunrichs maintained that “converting city parkland to a wildlife preserve where citizens are barred from use is a direct violation of (San Diego) City Charter section 55, and must have the approval of the voters of San Diego (via a two-thirds majority).”

He added that ESHA designation is “illogical,” and violates the City Charter and Children’s Pool Trust.

Meanwhile the “Seal Cam,” approved by Filner used to monitor the seals and possible harassment, remains in storage while the new lifeguard tower is built. Filner signed the order to close the beach at night following a high-profile incident in which two young women were caught harassing seals via the Seal Cam.

“This is the only seal rookery south of Ventura County because the whole Southern California coast is urbanized, so this is really unique,” Kwiatkowski said. “It’s a very small footprint we’re talking about.

“The five months we’re looking at (closing the beach), it’s a colder time period and there isn’t as much activity down there. We’re not talking about closing it in July or August when there’s tremendous tourist activity and summer activity.”

Should the city council vote for the closure, it will still require approval by the Coastal Commission.

Related posts:

  1. UPDATED: City Attorney says ‘shared use’ working as La Jolla seal rope reinstalled
  2. Coastal Commission to rule on year-round seal rope July 11
  3. UPDATED (Jan. 25): Webcam to monitor seals installed at La Jolla Children’s Pool
  4. Mayor extends length of pupping season rope at La Jolla Children’s Pool
  5. City Council votes 6-0 to ban dogs at Children’s Pool

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Posted by Ashley Mackin on Oct 22, 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.

7 Comments for “Pupping season beach closure at La Jolla Children’s Pool up for council vote”

  1. Cheri Jacobs Aspen

    Children’s Pool = SAFETY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkHo0t6ieJc
    Jane Reldon hired a consultant to fight against the Disabled. She was at the Challenged Athletes Event at the Cove, and when Jack Robertson was being carried up the stairs, as he has not the use of his legs, Ms. Jane was there to heckle him, with” What’s the difference between being carried up these stairs and the stairs at the Children’s Pool”. Jack replied: ” Ramp all the beaches!”. The Children’s Pool was engineered and built for ‘Those Handicapped in LIfe’s Game” to provide protection from the surf for those who need it, the disabled, toddlers and the elderly. Water therapy is the best kind of therapy, gravity is removed and a paraplegic can be out of his wheelchair and still supported. We have 16,000 new severely disabled American Veterans to care for. Many are missing multiple limbs. The Seal Opportunists seem to think that if the C.P. is closed to everyone its OK to close it to the Disabled. Not so. As there is only ONE ocean pool, and only ONE safe entry for the Disabled. It is amazing that the City of San Diego and the people of La Jolla including a doctor, Jane would fight tooth and nail to stop access to the only ocean access for the disabled to the Pacific Ocean. Jane is a medical doctor I have heard, she should be for helping the disabled. The last time they closed the beach for lobster season a diver drowned trying to come in the rip tide at Shell Beach. How many deaths will there be until wisdom returns and this ocean pool is restored for the purpose it was built? Disabled lobster divers and novice lobster divers only have the Children’s Pool for safety. A Paraplegic United States Navy Seal needs the protection of the breakwater. A harbor seal does not. The seals should not lay in their own waste its not good for them at all. The Children’s Pool should also be a safe shark protected area, and not be baited. The seals should not be allowed to haul out and be penned in there at all. Bad for the seals and very bad for the environment.

  2. David Johnson

    Ms. Reldan is misrepresenting the facts and instead making unfounded allegations. The survival rate for seal pups is well above the survival rate in the wild. The mother seals are urbanized and do not abandon their pups at the Children’s Pool. They actually have given birth within feet of humans and have brought their pups out of the water and within feet of humans. As to only desiring to close the beach during the winter months, that is what they said when they asked for a rope to be erected. She can afford to pay a political consultant but as to paying attention to the real situation at the CP, she pays the truth little time and attention. As to the purpose of the CP it is for children and especially the handicapped. Disabled Navy Seals need the protection of the CP wall and need such a protected site to rehab from their war injuries.

  3. Cheri Jacobs Aspen

    The underwater ecology is devastated by the seals at the Children’s Pool ,S.Casa and Shell Beach. The seals have eaten about 4/5ths of the CA State Marine Fish, the Garibaldi, the mussel population is all but gone now. Mussels are an indicator species and most tide pool creatures eat them. So most of the Tide Pool Creatures are gone as well, Sea-Hares, Sea-Cucumbers, Sea-Stars, Abalone, opal eye perch and more should be a lot more plentiful. Check out the East Coast and their seal over populations, their fish stocks will never recover. And it is not about seals its about seal profits. If these Seal Opportunists claim to love the seals then they had better love the Seal’s home; the ocean. The over population of seals has caused a serious imbalance in the underwater eco-systems. And here come the sharks to have some seal dinner, as they should. But please NOAA manage the marine mammals so you are not baiting urban beaches for sharks. Closing down beaches is not the answer and is the result of terrible Marine Mammal Management. Sydney Australia has about 45 Ocean pools some over 100 years old, all maintained well, water tested and they do not allow Marine Mammals in their pools, they have lots of seals too, they love them but maintain a better balance and they would never bait their ocean pools with seals to attract sharks like San Diego is doing. We’ve already had one drowning as a result of closing the Children’s Pool, how many more deaths do you want to cause people? I’d say Ms. Jane and the rest of the people who voted to allow the Pool to be a Seal Pool Pit should quit their jobs, and sell their homes, give the money to the Disabled Veterans and get on the next slow boat to China as you do not deserve to be an American if you are fighting to stop access for the Wounded Warriors to the only ocean pool safe entry there is. You are not good Americans if you are against our Veterans. That is shameful. The seals do not care where they haul out and and pup, they’ve got it down, they are excellent swimmers in the rips, and the surf, a paraplegic Navy Seal needs the protection and he deserves it as he has given all for our Freedoms. The San Diego Planning Commissioner had it right when she said “San Diego may already be in violation of the ADA laws.” She is correct, the Ramp at the Children’s Pool was built prior to the Creation of ADA Law and is therefore the Grandfather to all Ramps to the real ocean. People in wheelchairs have the right to a ramp there in the current remodel. All you La Jolla People who have wanted this Lifeguard facility should be responsible for making sure the ADA Codes are being followed. The city erased the ramp and kept the ADA Shower after the permit was filed. Why in the World would you provide an ADA Shower? With no means to the water to need it? That is a very mean and cruel joke, Also Friends of the Seals I so-pose. I got news for you , that group is anything but Friends of the Seals for they are going to promote seal miscarriages and seal pup deaths from laying in their own fecal e.coli and T.B. urine and afterbirth slop that has penetrated into several feet of the beach, and can be air-born to the lovely retirement community Casa Manana. And that can not wash clean. The solution is to honor the 2004 Ruling by Judge Pate to restore the Pool and dredge out the sand. That is the wise thing to do. But San Diego is not being very wise. Nor very caring of their Challenged Athletes and Wounded Warriors if they vote to close off the access to the disabled in favor of polluting an urban beach. NO MORE SEAL VOTES Politicians no more SEAL KICKBACKS OR PROFITS. No more seal cam watching women in the shower. Stand against those who are opportunists and are using the seals for selfish profit not caring that their deeds are actually harming the balance of the underwater ecosystems. And does the CCC care? We will see if they too will fight against the Disabled and Wounded American Veterans.
    This is the only safe access for the disabled, the elderly and small children,built specifically for this purpose.

  4. so

    I support closing Casa Beach in La Jolla during the five months of harbor seal pupping season between December 15 and May 15. As you know, the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and the San Diego Municipal Code protect wildlife at this location.

    Of the 17 mainland seal rookeries in California, only Casa Beach and Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County have no access restrictions during pupping season.

    Closing this beach during pupping season will protect seal mothers and newborn seal pups from human harassment. Unfortunately, harassment and encroachment from people results in premature births, abandoned pups and increased pup mortality. An abandoned harbor seal pup cannot survive without its mother.

    It is for these reasons that I support closing Casa Beach during the critical months of seal pupping season.

  5. Cheri Jacobs Aspen

    As you know the original and priority uses of the Children’s Ocean Swimming pool is as a human bathing pool. Until the City of San Diego can daily clean the feces and afterbirth and urine soaked e.coli bacteria -sand that may be air-born to the retirement community just across the street, there should not be seals hauling out of course, That is just logical human health common sense. And Judge Pate ruled that the sand needed to be dredged out to clean the area. And we should not be baiting the La Jolla urban swimming coastline for sharks. C.P. was also meant to be a shark-safe swimming area and was not meant to be baited FOR sharks.
    This is unwise. San Diego would do well to learn from what could easily be our Sister City, Sydney Australia, they have dozens of ocean pools like C.P. Some are over 100 years old and still kept in excellent shape the water’s tested. They love their seals as we do , but honor them enough to manage to keep them out of urban ocean human bathing pools. There is a balance. And no fecal contamination is allowed at any of their human swimming areas. We have only one ocean pool, and are allowing it to crumble to ruin literally, and the pool to be filled with sand, the sluiceways plugged so the pool stays filthy, and have allowed seals to contaminate it. And of course these people claim to be doing this because they love seals. Or do they love making profit from the view of them? Hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations for tricking people into believing seals need help. They do not. Lots of other species do. The Eastern Pacific Gray Whale for example, only 150 breeding females, the plastic pollution in the oceans, that is a much better expenditure of environmental energy but! there is no profit. $50G for a Seal Cam, $280 G per year to guide the joystick, to follow women into the shower area and watch them undress, to hone in on teenage girls in bikinis, to photo vehicle license plates to run for their home addresses potentially, this is what the City of San Diego has been duped into supporting!!!! Whole careers have been built on the backs of pinnepeds, and I do not see any marine mammal management occurring at the 3-Beach-Jewel Area. No EIR done to see if the underwater environment could support such large numbers of an species to be added to an area in 1992, and I can not locate any on-going environmental impact reports from the ever increasing birth rates and populations. I do see sea lions starving to death, I do not see any more mussels, they are devoured, I see 1/5 of the Garibaldi as I did last year at this area. No environmental monitoring of the seal releases before and after and since as should have been done by law. And now we are having population problems, made worse for the Seal Opportunists untrue insults that we who support the healthy balance of the ocean, who enjoy being in it to study , and who can see that seals are better off in a natural environment, and that the disabled need the pool and seals don’t as they are better swimmers and are not disabled: labeled as seal-haters. I am sending out a very serious warning to anyone who would ever dare to relate Me or my R.A.M.P. Committee or our Snorkel Swimming Club as being seal haters. We are in the ocean sharing the magic with them. We support their home, the ocean so they are healthy and have balance in their environment. A concrete pool is not good for my swimming pals the seals. This is a very serious issue and I am sure the seals would agree that they are good swimmers and do not need the protection of the breakwater pool:
    THE DISABLED DO> NEVER EVER SHOULD THE RAMP HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO DETERIORATE. IT IS THE GRANDFATHER OF ALL RAMPS TO THE REAL PACIFIC OCEAN AND THE ONLY ONE LEFT ON THE WEST COAST. Ellen Scripps said she was building the pool as a Gratuity to Children and to those handicapped in life’s game. Edward Savage spoke on behalf of Ms.Scripps to ill to attend the opening ceremony of this bathing pool for children, ” and he along with Mayor Austin said:” Children, you are privileged to live in this environment to enjoy without danger, the ocean. And also he said :” the idea is not to make mollycoddles or our children, but to help them to health and joy in the sea”. It was clear and it is in the still in effect legal trust that the Children’s Pool is meant for human bathing, swimming, It was proven in Judge Pates courtroom that it is not legal to have them hauling out and polluting a ocean pool and urban swimming area. It is a health issue as well.
    The ramp there was open for wheelchair use for over half a century and was asphalted and used everyday. The City of San Diego has been in very serious ADA violation since ADA codes were created. The ramp there predates ADA law. Of course it should be updated! Why not? The Children’s Pool was constructed for the disabled. It does not mean that we hate seals, that is kindergarten tactics, and really hurtful to the disabled as well. It is time for us to unite as a Nation, help the U.S.O and help heal our disabled people. Restore the Children’s Pool, American Flags flying Armed Forces Flags flying, sea-stars planted in a corner where they can be a no-take zone so people can see them while floating in the Pacific Ocean pool, the only one we have! For: Those Handicapped in LIfe’s Game” Lets give back to the American wounded Veterans and give them the magic of the Pacific Ocean at the only safe pool, lets fix it up for them. Please. The seals are part of the therapy!!! Lets make it a win win. Thank you.
    R.A.M.P. Committee dedicated to Restoring Access to Many People at the Children’s Ocean Bathing Pool and supporting a Healthy Ocean Environment.

  6. Cheri Jacobs Aspen

    The City of San Diego is in serious violation of ADA Laws since ADA Laws were created. Joe Barnet, retired lifeguard remembers well the RAMP in use for the disabled and their wheelchairs. That ANYone would allow the Children’s Pool to fall to such decay and to specifically block access to United States Wounded Veterans, W ounded Warriors , the Elderly and Crippled Children for whom this Ocean Therapy Pool was built is totally ignorant.
    I hereby acuse all the politicians , all City Planning Commissioners, and all the City Counsil and the CA. Coastal Commission of being in VIOLATION OF FEDERAL , STATE AND LOCAL ADA LAWS. This is a human therapy bathing pool for “Those handicapped in Life’s Game” . San Diego needs to get it’s priorites straight immediately. The City has been a marionette for the Seal Opportunists Groups . And have used the Ranger and the Police as puppets for their sick game. Suckers all, dupes.
    Shame on San Diego, as our terribly wounded young men and women , many graduating from the Military here, come home to find that no one really even has the slightest clue what they have gone through to loose both their legs. To loose their eyesight. Many have lost the ability to swim out through the surf, many have lost the ability to surf, to boogie board, to paddle board, to run, to bike. Children’s Pool is the ONLY ocean pool for the disabled. That anyone would even think of closing it to them is totally unethical, and against the Law. San Diego looks bad enough electing a Mayor who hired the WANs to operate a Joy stick of a ‘seal cam’ to follow women into the showers and then hone in on license plates of their cars, what would be the next criminal step I wonder? Follow people home? Very likely. This is potentiall criminal behavior. And this is OK with San Diego? And you want to pay 50 grand for the infrared camera , and pay 280 grand to operate the joy stick? All because you are afraid that you may be called a Seal Hater? That is a low middle school tactic. No one hates the seals. So just stop that childish verbage immediately. San Diego needs to stop playing with our tax money for such waste and unethical expendictures. Start taking care of the balance of the ocean and all creatures and not just the pinnipeds who because of mankind are over populated and that is cruel to them. This is terrible marine mammal management. Using seals and seal lions to make a living when they are suffering and potenially starving as I believe the seal lions did last season and this will continue until someone who really cares for them, certainly not our local agencies, which is more than a traviisty, starts some population control management. Where were they two days ago when the sea lions at La JOlla Cove charged the beach , roaring, fangs dripping? This is going on almost daily now at La Jolla Cove, MPA, ESHA. If that would be happening at the Children’s Pool it would be immediately closed. Not so politically correct though right? So the City, NOAA and the lifeguards allow it, marine mammals charging the beach and clearing it of humans. Same thing happened on Labor Day Weekend 6 bull lions charged the beach and cleared it of people. The same controls that are hammered at the Children’s Pool should be hammered at La Jolla Cove. Bring all the seals to the Cove, save the Pool for swimming and close the cove to just be the ESHA and the MPA it already is. I am being facitious I want no swimming areas closed, I am just making the logical point, that beaches could close from a total lack of marine mammal mamagement. Seal Fecal bacteria closed the Cove on the 18th, That is a scientific sign to these ocean agencies that there is an over population problem. Where is the management? These are uban swimming areas, and are the only safe areas for people, Please stop baiting them for sharks. There is room for all of us along this coastline. Childrens Pool and the Cove are the two safest swimming areas, so logically they should be saved for humans. Logic. And the rest for the marine mammals. Again Logic. San Diego had better look up the definition of this word. Someone is going to get munched by a shark, And I am warning the City and will hold the City liable if anyone is bitten at The Cove or Children’s Pool. You have been warned, so it would be logical to start caring just a little bit for the people too. A shark attack will be bad for tourism.

  7. Cheri Jacobs Aspen

    n 1931 the site was
    deeded to the City by the State of California in Tidelands Grant which said —Said lands shall be
    devoted exclusively to public park, bathing pool for children, parkway, highway, playground,
    and recreational purposes, and for such other purposes as may be convenient for the full
    enjoyment of such purposes.“
    National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) advised the City, that the MMPA did
    not preclude the City from reclaiming Children‘s pool if it decided that is what it wanted to do.
    NOAA Fisheries referred the City to section 109(h) which authorizes local government officials 3

    to take marine mammals for the protection of the public health and welfare, or the nonlethal
    removal of nuisance animals.

    It is time for some real Marine Mammal Management for their health and the welfare of the human swimming areas.

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