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Children’s Pool Friends sue city over seal rope extension

Children’s Pool visitors delight in the seals from behind the rope barrier. Pat Sherman

By Ashley Mackin

The La Jolla beach access advocacy group, Friends of the Children’s Pool (FoCP), announced on Feb. 21 their lawsuit filed against the City of San Diego for the December 2012 lengthening of the rope barrier found at Children’s Pool. The papers were served Feb. 25.
Children’s Pool visitors delight in the seals from behind the rope barrier. Pat Sherman

La Jolla Light previously reported that though the rope was initially intended to be 152 feet long — with a three-foot opening for divers and spear fishermen to access the shoreline — in 2010 city staff mistakenly approved coastal development and site development permits for a 130-foot rope barrier, which resulted in an opening of more than 20 feet.

“Our objection to that is that (Mayor Bob Filner) did this without, first of all, proper public notice and without going through a process that allows the public to express their concerns and object,” said Ken Hunrichs, president of FoCP.

Attorney Bernie King, representing FoCP, said the issue needs to be open for public comment, because that is how the city can best move forward. “If that means not going ahead with the extension because of infor- mation heard in the review process, then that’s what it means, if it means going ahead with the extension because of information heard in the review process, then that’s what it means,” he said. “Either way, no one disputes that you can’t avoid the process.”

Regarding the length adjustment, Hunrichs said he has doubts about the city error. “They are claiming a measurement error ... they said it was a typo when it was first discovered, and then they came up with this scheme, saying that the measuring wheel was mis- calibrated and so forth,” he said. “That may or may not be true, we don’t really know. The fact is, when you change a coastal development permit, there is a process to go through to do that.”

That process, along with options for a course of action, was outlined in a memo by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to Mayor Filner, issued Dec. 24, 2012.

Hunrichs said, “This case is very limited; we’re not looking at all kinds of bigger issues here. We’re just saying on this one thing — this one action by the mayor (who) had a procedure that was laid out by the city attorney and by law, and chose to ignore it — the mayor simply modified a permit on his own without notice.”

FoCP stated in a press release, “The lawsuit seeks to have the rope returned to legal compliance with the permit until it is legally modified through a public process.”

The suit also asks that the rope be restored to the 130-foot length. “Our lawsuit just seeks to have the city follow the rule of law and comply with the procedures that are in place,” Hunrichs said, adding that the California Coastal Commission now has jurisdiction of that area and is the one that could make the decision to amend the necessary permits.

Acknowledging the controversy surrounding the use of the Children’s Pool beach, Hunrichs said, “Hopefully, we’ll come up with some resolution that allows this area to return to being a park and not a battleground.”