UPDATED (Jan. 25): Webcam to monitor seals installed at La Jolla Children’s Pool

A worker installed a surveillance camera atop the condemned lifeguard tower at Children's Pool beach Thursday afternoon. A representative from Mayor Filner's office has been slow to respond to reports that Filner authorized installation of the camera. Pat Sherman photos
A worker installed a surveillance camera atop the condemned lifeguard tower at Children's Pool beach Thursday afternoon. A representative from Mayor Filner's office has been slow to respond to reports that Filner authorized installation of the camera. Pat Sherman photos
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A worker installed a surveillance camera atop the condemned lifeguard tower at Children's Pool beach Thursday afternoon. Mayor Filner's office has been slow to respond to reports that Filner authorized installation of the camera. Pat Sherman photos

By Pat Sherman

A surveillance camera was installed atop the condemned lifeguard tower at Children’s Pool beach Jan. 24, which will be used to monitor harbor seals, and ostensibly potential harassment of pregnant seals and their pups.

It was unclear at press time whether permits were required for installation of the camera, or who at the city approved its installation.

Once functional, the live video feed will be available for viewing on the website of the 

Western Alliance for Nature

(WAN), founded by Larry Wan, husband of former California Coastal Commissioner and seal advocate, Sara Wan. Multiple sources told the

La Jolla Light

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner approved installation of the camera, to be funded by WAN.

Reached for comment at her Malibu home, Sara Wan said, “We would like this to go through the mayor; this is really his thing.”

A notice on the WAN website announced: “The Western Alliance for Nature and the City of San Diego invite you to watch our harbor seals give birth, nurse and care for their newborns in real time.”

David Pierce, director of the San Diego Council of Divers told the

Light

, “Mayor Filner has bypassed the permitting process again, just as he did when he extended the pupping season rope. Mayor Filner should be setting an example for citizens to follow, not to violate the law but to go through (the city’s) governmental process.”

Ken Hunrichs, president of the pro-beach access group, Friends of the Children’s Pool, said he feels it “improper” to allow a webcam to be installed “on public property to promote the website of a private organization.

“When cell phone antennas are placed on city-owned buildings or property, the city is provided a royalty or compensation of some kind. It would be interesting to see if WAN is paying such a fee,” he said.

WAN describes itself as “a land conservancy that works with state and federal agencies, and partners with other conservancies and non-profit organizations to purchase, restore and manage critical ecosystems. … We have no paid staff. Officers and directors receive no compensation. Overhead and administrative costs are funded by the founders. Therefore, donors can make a significant contribution to conservation because 100 percent goes directly to the conservation project.”

Earlier this month, the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) voted to draft a letter to the mayor, in response to his decision to extend the guideline rope at Children’s Pool beach. At Filner’s urging, city workers extended the rope last month before required permits for the work were obtained.

The rope, which is intended to keep humans and seals a safe distance apart during the fin-footed mammals’ pupping season (Dec. 15-May 15), was supposed to be 152 feet in length per a 2010 vote of the San Diego City Council. That length leaves a three-foot opening for divers and spear fishermen to access the shoreline. But in 2010, city staff mistakenly approved coastal development and site development permits for a 130-foot rope, which resulted in an opening of about 20 feet.

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