By Isabelle Rojas
San Diego resident
I have been at Children's Pool nearly every weekend, about 12 hours each Saturday and Sunday since June and have observed the following:
- Joint use of Children's Pool under the current city policy works. People are able to use their beach, and there have been no significant interruptions of use of this beach by seals.
- "Seals only" activists chase people off the beach and build seaweed corrals trying to limit access to the beach. This causes conflicts between people but now has lessened due to the new ranger.
- Given a chance to mature, the ranger and docents can monitor the proximity of seal watchers to seals to prevent close contact, enforce regulations about sidewalk vending tables, and protect visitors from harassment by "seals only" activists — all positive outcomes.
My experience has shown that most visitors arrive with unreasonable expectations of what they will see at Children's Pool. This seems to be based on them seeing photos showing a beach covered with seals or a previous visit during different hours or seasons. Many visitors think the Children's Pool is closed to people. When asked why, they mention seeing the seasonal rope barrier. The proposed year-round permanent rope implies closure and is an impediment to the beach access guaranteed by the California Constitution and the California Coastal Act.
Self-appointed "seal protectors" often give disappointed visitors false information about the reason seals are not on the beach. They fabricate stories and say that people harass seals or claim that the seals cannot survive without being on Children's Pool beach. Not true. The seals are on their own unpredictable schedule and not the unrealistic schedule of a casual seal watcher.
In rare instances, people become overly enthusiastic wanting to see the seals up close. They don't mean harm but sometimes get within the seal's comfort range on the beach. The ranger and docents will mitigate these rare occurrences. A rope barrier cannot respond to any changes in conditions or locations of wildlife.
A permanent year-round rope barrier violates the Coastal Act and should be rejected by the San Diego City Planning Commission.