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Our Readers Write: Sea lions, housing, speeding, Walter Munk home, more

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Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor:

Public safely views sea lions during Point La Jolla closure

There have been some welcome changes at the La Jolla sea lion rookery in the past few months. While increased signage was installed by the city in July informing visitors to stay back as sea lions were giving birth at Point La Jolla and Boomer Beach and stencils were painted on the viewing wall warning visitors not to approach mothers and pups, visitors still felt compelled to get too close to the moms and pups at this vulnerable time.

The city, therefore, issued a temporary closure order beginning Aug. 11 and due to end Sept. 15.

For the record:

4:38 p.m. Sept. 14, 2021The letter about the Point La Jolla closure has been updated to correct the name of the author.

During the closure, visitors are safely viewing from the wall where they can observe the sea lions in their natural environment. Pups are practicing their swimming skills in shallow pools, playing with feathers and seaweed (although they don’t eat kelp), calling to their mothers as they return from fishing and nursing in quiet contentment. Visitors are mesmerized by these scenes, and many have even witnessed live births.

Over 60 sea lion births at Point La Jolla and Boomer Beach were recorded, which makes it the only rookery of this size on the California coast. Sierra Club Seal Society docents have been teaching visitors how the breeding season unfolds: Bulls arrive in May after their winter migration to begin staking out their territory, females give birth to a single pup from May through July, and mating begins four weeks after birthing.

During this time, bulls establish and defend their territories in the water and on land, which can lead to chasing across the beach and bluffs and up the cliffs to the wall. This is one reason docents recommend that visitors view from the wall, as it can be dangerous to be caught in the middle of battles between 800-pound bulls that are surprisingly fast on land. Another reason is that the pups, weighing 20 to 30 pounds, cannot swim proficiently until around 4 months of age and are often left on the rocks or beach to fend for themselves while their moms go out fishing. This can be too much of a temptation for visitors to approach them and can lead to pups falling off the rocks into the surf below and drowning.

A plastic water-filled barrier marked the edge of the temporary closure of Point La Jolla beginning Aug. 11.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Visitors often ask docents about the impact of sea lions on the marine environment, and we present scientific facts based on research. California sea lions are indigenous to the area and their fecal matter contributes to the marine ecosystem, providing nutrients for plankton and promoting species productivity and diversity.

They also ask how sea lions impact the level of fish in the area. Overfishing and environmental changes such as warming of the oceans are the main contributors to fish levels, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In addition, studies of the health of this colony provide insight into factors affecting the marine environment and offer early warnings about potential impacts on humans. The colony is attracting increased interest from marine biologists, as it is the only rookery they can study outside the Channel Islands.

Thus, the benefits of preserving this special place are many. The closure has protected the sea lions and their pups. The number of harassment incidents by humans has markedly decreased. Notwithstanding is the joy that visitors experience watching sea lions from the wall as they go about their life undisturbed, bodysurfing, frolicking in the waves, nursing and resting on top of each other. It is a truly amazing sight to witness — both the sea lions’ antics and the smiles on the faces of those watching!

Carol Toye
Sierra Club Seal Society docent

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Housing creation should be addressed through local efforts

Two things about angst over Senate Bill 9 (“These bills have way too high a cost for single-family neighborhoods, traffic and parking,” Let Inga Tell You, Aug. 26, La Jolla Light).

1. Its application to any single-family lot requires that the property be owned by the applicant for at least three years. This should squelch the speculator crowd. You just need to beware of your neighbor.

2. Assuming you agree that there is a housing availability crisis in California, there needs to be an informed adult conversation about how to remedy the situation — one without mandates from Sacramento.

As a charter city under California’s constitution, San Diego is able to develop and propose “equivalent” alternatives to state legislation in situations such as this. To accomplish this, the city could create and loosely guide a short-term working group of experts in various fields related to housing creation. This group would be tasked to propose local ordinances that “fit” San Diego and have the same goal as the state’s legislation but are the result of local input and approval.

Under this very general guidance from the city, this private sector working group should include (at a minimum) city planners, finance folks, real estate experts, architects, land-use attorneys, civil engineers and community representatives. The limited number of participants should be selected for their local knowledge and charged with creating workable solutions that would be acceptable first to San Diego and also to Sacramento.

We have the local ability and knowledge base to do this. We just need the leadership and the will.

Dan Linn

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Place speed bumps closer to stop signs

The speeding in The Village has really become upsetting in the last year, especially with people not completing stops at the four-way stop sign intersections. While many of us who live here in The Village respect the law and allow pedestrians to safely cross, many others do not.

I believe we can solve this very easily. What most communities try to do is wrong — that is, they put speed bumps or undulations in the middle of the road. This fails quite often because the cars can still speed up before the stop sign.

We could enhance the safety, order and protection of the pedestrians in The Village if we place speed bumps very near the stop signs. I am not an engineer, so my estimate may be wrong, but I would propose somewhere about 12 to 15 feet before the stop signs or intersections. This would mean the car has no choice but to slow down right before the intersection or risk the repercussions of hitting the speed bumps going way too fast.

Derek LaCrone

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Preserve Walter Munk’s former home for tours

At Princeton, N.J., Albert Einstein’s home is open to tourists. Because Walter Munk has been called the “Einstein of the Oceans,” we believe that his home, Seiche, should be preserved and open to tours of the UC San Diego campus, too (“UC San Diego to sell La Jolla former home of oceanographer Walter Munk,” July 22, La Jolla Light).

And because the house is large and has a wonderful outdoor amphitheater that overlooks the ocean, it would be a perfect place to use as a small conference center like the Martin Johnson House.

From their founding, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCSD have played central roles in world science. It would be a shame to lose such an important historical landmark!

Liz and Chris Wills

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Was respiratory virus study really necessary?

“Study finds most respiratory viruses are airborne” (“Study finds most respiratory viruses are airborne, so are masks here to stay? ‘Not really,’ UCSD expert says,” Sept. 2, La Jolla Light). Really? Sort of like saying most car accidents involve cars.

How much did the taxpayer get billed for this “study”?

David Frankville

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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 robert.vardon@lajollalight.com. You also can submit a letter online at lajollalight.com/submit-a-letter-to-the-editor. The deadline is 10 a.m. Monday for publication in that week’s paper. Letters without the writer’s name cannot be published. Letters from the same person are limited to one in a 30-day period. ◆