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La Jolla Town Council hears request to help get signs at The Cove urging distancing from sea lions

The La Jolla Town Council heard updates June 10 about the Torrey Pines Gliderport and sea lions at The Cove.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The La Jolla Town Council heard a request from Seal Society of San Diego docent Robyn Davidoff during its June 10 virtual meeting to assist in getting signs posted at Point La Jolla at The Cove to encourage people to keep their distance from sea lions in the area.

The Town Council did not act on the matter as it was not listed as an action item on the agenda.

The signs were announced by San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava on June 1, but Davidoff said they are “stuck in legal.”

She pushed for the Town Council’s help in getting temporary signage at The Cove, the cost of which would be “paid by the Sierra Club, and it can be produced in three days.”

“We now ask you to help us get it done, get the signs approved,” she said.

Davidoff said the urgency is necessary to keep people away from the sea lions during their pupping season, which continues through Oct. 31.

“We now have 17 newborn pups, but we expect 50 for the summer. And the docents are trying to keep track of all of them, but with 300 people per hour getting close to the sea lions, they’re overwhelmed,” Davidoff said.

She said the Seal Society’s “approach is always to just request people to stay at the top of the stairs and view [the sea lions] from the sidewalk. … Most people are glad to do this when presented with the information.”

She said there have been several instances of harassment and abuse of sea lions by humans, with docents observing people “holding the flippers of a sea lion in the water at The Cove” and throwing sand on a newborn pup.

“We’re at a crisis situation,” she said. She added that an increase in tourists observing the sea lions adds to beach erosion.

Town Council President James Rudolph said there are “two competing interests” — the protections of wildlife and beach access.

“The right balance needs to be struck here,” he said.

LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said he is trying to get park rangers funded for the area to help instruct people to stay back from the sea lions.

Gliderport concerns

LaCava attended the Town Council meeting to address its letter asking him to look into complaints raised earlier this year about the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Area resident Bob Kuczewski sought support from the Town Council and the La Jolla Shores Association, citing concerns about “accidents, bullying [and] lawlessness” that he said have been happening for years at the Gliderport.

The Town Council sent a letter to LaCava in May following a subcommittee meeting on the issue.

LaCava said the Gliderport “is certainly an unusual animal in the city’s list of assets in the sense that it is a historic venue and provides a unique opportunity for those who enjoy all aspects of what a gliderport can offer.”

The Gliderport is “well outside the capacity of the city of San Diego to operate it,” he said, adding that the city often contracts with outside vendors.

Kuczewski asked for the city to reinstate the Gliderport’s advisory board, but LaCava said the city will not do so “because the advisory board does not intervene” in the issues Kuczewski raised.

LaCava said the City Council has no further purview over the Gliderport. “If you think there is something funny going on, there is a lot of mechanisms to use,” he said, encouraging Kuczewski and others who have concerns to contact the city auditor.

The Town Council will not meet in July or August. The next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9. For more information, visit lajollatowncouncil.org.

Updates

9:56 p.m. June 13, 2021: This article was updated to clarify that the sea lion matter was not listed as an action item on the Town Council agenda.