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By Pat Sherman
with Ashley Mackin
Following a year of inaction by local, state and federal officials, the City of San Diego has finally devised a plan to clean odoriferous bird waste off the cliffs at the La Jolla Cove: vacuum it.
According to an e-mail from District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner’s office sources forwarded to the
, the city plans to “regularly vacuum up the waste that accumulates in the pools on the rocks (which biologists have determined to be the source of the worst odors) and to perform bird deterrence measures.”
The City’s Park and Recreation Department is in the process of securing approval from two federal agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to carry out the plan.
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) and San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) indicated to city officials that they could support such an approach, as it doesn’t involve the discharge of pollutants into the ocean or any new bluff development, the e-mail states.
The La Jolla Town Council (LJTC) and La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) both began the year reviving discussion of the unsavory aroma wafting from La Jolla Cove. During the groups’ January meetings it was announced that the office of Gov. Jerry Brown sent identical letters to Councilmember Lightner and County Supervisor Ron Roberts. The letters were in response to the officials’ pleas for help cutting through bureaucratic red tape that is delaying a solution to the stench coming from bird and marine mammal excrement on the rocks at the Cove.
The letter, dated Dec. 9, but not received until January, states that the governor’s office has contacted the Coastal Commission, which has been examining “environmentally responsible” solutions to eliminate the smell, “while keeping with regulatory requirements and remaining sensitive to the concerns of La Jolla citizens.”
“The Coastal Commission has informed us that they will be in touch with applicable parties in San Diego to resolve the problem in a timely and effective manner,” the letter states.
Though the letter is not a directive, noted LJTC President Cindy Greatrex, “it is Gov. Brown’s assurance that they are aware of the problem, aware that La Jollans are suffering as a result — particularly our merchants and our tourists,” she said.
A host of state and federal environmental laws that prevent human-induced runoff from entering the ocean have been the primary roadblock to managing the stench.
Questioned during the LJTC meeting as to whether radio host Mike Slater or his employer will be fined for sweeping the cormorant offal into the ocean during December’s rains, and whether community members should also try this, Councilmember Lightner cautioned others not to attempt a similar stunt (which 77 percent of respondents in a recent