Our Readers Write: Harbor seals, height code, coronavirus, UCSD project

Harbor seals rest at the Children's Pool in La Jolla during a past pupping season.

Letters to the editor:

Harbor seal babes are on their way in the 2021 pupping season

After a spring and summer of fun and recreation on one of our finest protected beaches, known locally as the Children’s Pool, or Casa, we humans are in for a spectacular display of Mother Nature with the onset of the yearly harbor seal pupping season.

The very pregnant mothers-to-be have been spending more time on land as their nine months are about to end with newborns due in February through early April. For the seventh year, this urban beach is closed between Dec. 15 and May 15 to give the seals privacy before giving birth, deliver the pups safely away from human interference (you may even see a birth if you are lucky) and teach the pups the necessary skills to survive on their own after a short six weeks of nursing.

Once weaned, and the weight gain almost doubled since birth and the pups now able to catch the fish, octopi and shelled creatures needed for growth, the inseparable pairs will part ways as the adult female’s body prepares for mating with the returning male partners for the next year’s reproductive cycle.

Visitors are not able to access the sands of Casa Beach, as a chain link is secured midway down the stairs. Access to bathrooms and the historic seawall does remain open. However, excellent viewing is available from all sides of the upper sidewalk, on the seawall and around the green gazebo. Winter swimming is abundantly available at other local beaches, such as Shell Beach, Boomers, La Jolla Shores, Windansea and The Cove.

When you come, please observe the guidelines for optimal viewing, such as: keep the noise level down; never leave litter; keep dogs off the beach; and be aware that lights from cameras and flashlights disturb the seals after dark.

The BBC made a film of Casa Beach in 2001 and made this observation: “The harbor seals of La Jolla are among less than a handful of (rookery) colonies in the world which have adapted to modern civilization; hardly anywhere is it possible to view these marine mammals at (such) close range.”

Please enjoy the experience of the pupping season and do your part to preserve this unique natural treasure for generations to come.

Ellen Shively

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Understanding the overall height code

Regarding the article “La Jolla DPR Committee to recommend changes to city building rules,” Dec. 3, La Jolla Light:

The municipal code does not have three ways to measure building height, as Mr. [Brian] Will would have you believe. There are two measurements that must be done as expressed in the municipal code’s Chapter 11, Article 3, “Overall structure height.” These two measurements are not mutually exclusive. That is, both measurements must be done and both must satisfy their respective requirements.

Mr. Will would have you believe they are two independent measurements of the 30-foot height limit. They are not.

One of the measurements constrains any point on the building to be no higher than 30 feet from the ground. The yellow dotted line in the accompanying diagram indicates this 30-foot constraint for a sloping lot. Please note that this “overall structure height” section of code applies to the whole city, not just the coastal zone, so the phrase “The structure height …allowed by the applicable zone” implies 30 feet in the coastal zone.

Note also that if the lot had no slope, the dotted line would become horizontal and the diagram would still define the 30-foot limit. Note that the 30-foot Prop. D limit line can never be horizontal for a sloped lot. This is important for project review. [Proposition D was a 1972 voter-approved measure that limited the height of buildings to 30 feet in San Diego’s coastal zone.]

The yellow dotted line in this diagram indicates the 30-foot height constraint for a sloping lot, reader David Little writes.
(Courtesy of David Little)

The other measurement is described in Section (B) as follows: “The overall structure height is measured from the lowest point of existing grade or proposed grade … to the highest point of the structure … projected horizontally to directly above this lowest point of grade.” This projection defines two elevation points that are indicated in green in the diagram. The difference between these two elevation points, marked low and high, cannot be measured along a plumb-bob line. Note again that if the lot has no slope, these two elevation points are both 30 feet from the ground in the coastal zone.

In the Light article, Mr. Will states the height is “measured from the lowest point … of the building” but neglects to mention where it is measured to, therefore implying a conventional plump-bob measurement.

In addition, Mr. Will added a third measurement: “The third is the Prop. D height limit, which is … measured from proposed grade only.” Such a statement cannot be found in the code. In fact, after the codification of Prop. D, the city, to its credit, supplemented the code, adding the phrase that requires measuring “from the existing grade or the proposed grade, whichever is lower.”

The Light article mentions the 7342 Remley Place project. The trustees apparently believed the applicant’s diagram that showed a horizontal line over the building. The developer labeled this line “40’ max, height, Prop. D height limit.” No such horizontal line or justification of such a line can be found in the code. Note again that the 30-foot Prop. D limit line can never be horizontal for a sloped slot. The Remley project did not meet all height-limit requirements and therefore justifiably created a lot of ill will when it was passed.

Finally, when the trustees are in doubt about a height-limit vote, they should ask themselves one question: What was the voters’ intent when they passed Prop. D?

David Little

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We can be ‘normal’ after we’ve conquered the virus

Today, we find ourselves in serious conflict against an insidious virus.

It’s troubling when I hear folks say they are tired of all the cautionary tasks like masks and social distancing, just wanting to be “normal” again.

I would imagine that the troops at Guadalcanal and also those freezing to death in the Battle of the Bulge wished they could just be home and “normal.” I was in Vietnam in 1968. I recall December of that year and how all of us wished we could be in a “normal” space again.

Our troops currently serving in foreign places also wish to be in a “normal” place, but they aren’t. They are united in conflict with a dangerous enemy. These patriots stand firm and fight until the enemy is defeated.

I hope we can all, young and old, be united in this current struggle to defeat this terrible virus.

Until then, we can’t be “normal.”

Paul Mears

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Fight against UCSD project isn’t over

The fight to stop the massive TDLLN [Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood] project at UC San Diego continues. As expected, the UC regents gave approval to this project at their November meeting. That changes nothing. The CEQA lawsuit [by the La Jolla Shores Association and the Blackhorse Farms homeowners association] continues.

This phase of the CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] lawsuit requires that the parties meet in settlement discussions. We look forward to these discussions with UCSD. Our hope is that both parties can work together to get a wonderful project — a project that truly works for both the university and the La Jolla community.

La Jolla Shores Association and others continue their efforts to protect the quality of life in La Jolla for all who work, live and visit here.

We welcome your ideas and input as we continue to move forward to get UCSD to work with us on this matter. This effort is for everyone who loves La Jolla.

Thank you to all of you for your continued support. Please contact us at

Stay well and safe over the holidays.

Janie Emerson

President, La Jolla Shores Association

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What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the La Jolla Light express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. Letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity and accuracy. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your first and last names and city or neighborhood of residence to Letters without the writer’s name cannot be published. Letters from the same person are limited to one in a three-month period. ◆