La Jolla Parks & Beaches takes official position against planned year-round Point La Jolla closure

Sea lions rest at Point La Jolla.
Sea lions rest at Point La Jolla, which the city of San Diego plans to close to the public year-round starting in November.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The board approves a letter that will be shared with other community groups to try to garner support before it is forwarded to the city of San Diego.


The La Jolla Parks & Beaches board voted to support a proposed letter written by President Bob Evans opposing the city of San Diego’s planned year-round closure of Point La Jolla.

The June 26 approval of the draft letter is subject to light editing and grammatical changes and will be shared with other community groups to try to garner support, Evans said.

Though LJP&B had voiced its disapproval of the permanent closure of Point La Jolla, which the city announced April 11, it hadn’t yet formally opposed it. The plan would extend the annual six-month closure, from May 1 through Oct. 31, during sea lion pupping season to all year.

Point La Jolla is a rocky area between La Jolla Cove beach and Boomer Beach where sea lions go on land to rest and give birth. The closure also applies to the bluffs at Boomer Beach, where sea lions also haul out.

Boomer Beach water access remains open via a makeshift trail.

City officials and wildlife advocates say the closure is necessary to keep people and sea lions apart for the safety of both. The city hopes to have an amended permit for the year-round closure approved by the California Coastal Commission by the end of October, when the seasonal closure would otherwise end.

Opponents say environmental impacts of the closure and a sea lion habitat at Point La Jolla need to be studied and that the city’s plan would set a precedent for year-round closures.

Point La Jolla currently is closed from May through October for sea lion pupping season.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“I want to create a position of opinion,” Evans said at LJP&B’s June 26 meeting. He added that the point and the adjacent Scripps Park — which the letter refers to as “parts of an inseparable whole” — are “just going in a completely wrong direction.”

The draft letter states that “all relevant stakeholders need to be involved in making decisions and recommendations for repair, restoration and enhancement of this singularly important landmark resource of La Jolla. … Together, we need to develop universal access, enhancement of public safety and security.”

Point La Jolla “is in its worst shape ever,” said Evans, who added that he wants to “get this park returned to [a] regional and worldwide destination … for everyone to enjoy.”

Evans said he wrote the letter to emphasize the need to “understand all the social, economic and environmental impacts that a large pinnipeds population brings to the area.”

Several board members spoke in support of the letter but wanted to move up the last paragraph: “Without a full environmental impact study, the proposed closing … is a reckless and short-sighted solution.”

“The environmental impact report should be the major reason in the first paragraph of this letter,” member Tom Brady said.

Brady also said some of the letter could be interpreted as abrasive. “‘Reckless’ is not a good word to use,” he said.

During public discussion, Robyn Davidoff, chairwoman of the Sierra Club Seal Society, called the letter “a bit inflammatory.”

She added that sea lions are contained to Point La Jolla and thus are not “ruining Scripps Park.”

“For public safety, closing the point is a win-win solution because the number of people that actually use the area is quite small,” Davidoff said.

Other members of the public supported the draft letter.

“I’m the last person to propose pushing animals out of their areas, but [what] you guys have been fighting for is a valid point,” said Joel Tracey, a city lifeguard from 1990 to 1996 who worked at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool and is a scientific research diver.

“It’s a public and environmental issue that needs to be worked through,” Tracey said. “But our city leaders are failing us with respect to addressing this effectively.”

The motion to approve the draft passed, with member Jane Reldan opposed without comment.

Once the letter is finalized, Evans will share it with other La Jolla groups to ask for their support before forwarding it to San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, and “state and federal agencies,” Evans said.

— La Jolla Light staff writer Ashley Mackin-Solomon contributed to this report.