City says no to stench 'cleanser' at La Jolla Cove

Bird droppings on rocks near La Jolla Cove are causing visitors to clench their collective noses. Pat Sherman Photos
Bird droppings on rocks near La Jolla Cove are causing visitors to clench their collective noses. Pat Sherman Photos
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Bird droppings on rocks near La Jolla Cove are causing visitors to clench their collective noses. Pat Sherman Photos

By Pat Sherman

A city employee said it is highly unlikely that a cleanser proposed to rid rocks at La Jolla Cove of their foul stench will be approved.

Addressing those in attendance at the May 21 meeting of the La Jolla Parks and Beaches advisory committee, Dan Daneri, a district manager for the city’s parks and recreation department, said he learned of the city’s decision the previous week.

Community members had proposed spraying a non-toxic agent derived from pomegranate and chia seeds to clean bird and marine mammal excrement on the rocks, which is causing the pervasive, foul odor.

“I just got the word; it’s coming from above me,” Daneri said, noting that a city biologist determined there is no way to spray the agent without potential environmental risks.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s safe,” Daneri added. “There’s a huge concern with the environmental impact of spraying around the water. You really can’t even walk down there and spray fresh water on those cliffs if it’s going to get in the (ocean). It’s storm water. The city of San Diego is on the hook for that. … The liability to the city — that’s what it’s coming down to.”

Committee member Melinda Merryweather said she spent four months working with city officials and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to get the spray approved.

“I’m only a volunteer,” she said. “I’m trying to solve a problem that this community has. During the summertime — coming very soon — there is a terrible, terrible odor out there that bothers everybody.”

Merryweather said NOAA was close to lending its approval to the spray, as long as it doesn’t disturb the sea lions.

“That remains to be seen,” Daneri said. “How you can spray above the high-tide line without disturbing those sea lions?”

Merryweather said a community member has volunteered to pay for the product and its application, noting that the stench-removing solution has been used at the Los Angeles Zoo and at San Diego’s Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.

Daneri said the difference is that those sites are closed systems.

“At the Wild Animal Park it was (sprayed in) a flamingo pond, which is a closed system,” he said. “There’s virtually no chance of that entering into the environment or the waterways — and that’s where the huge concern is coming over this.”

Daneri said a map he requested from Merryweather clearly defining the area to be sprayed was not sufficient.

“How are you going to mix the product?” he further questioned. “Where is it going to be mixed? ... There’s a lot of stuff that hasn’t been addressed yet.”

Merryweather said she and other community members will continue fighting for a resolution to the sea rock stench.

“I guess we should print it in the paper that we have somebody who wants to pay for this and the city of San Diego is saying, ‘No, we don’t want it.’”

   
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