Children’s Pool seal rope controversy has new twist

By Dave Schwab

daves@lajollalight.com

With seals already bearing pups at the La Jolla’s Children’s Pool, the recurring debate over how to separate the mammals from beachgoers is shifting to a new venue — the California Coastal Commission.

The panel is tentatively set to discuss an application for a year-round rope barrier across the beach at its March meeting, which will be held in Chula Vista. It’s also one subject on the Dec. 12 La Jolla Parks & Beaches Inc. agenda.

On Dec. 15, with the “official” pupping season starting, the rope will be be reinstalled — as of now only until May 15 when the season “ends.”

Phyllis Minnick, Parks & Beaches board member, says she’s concerned that “the city of San Diego has accelerated efforts to close the La Jolla Children’s Pool to human access” with the Parks and Recreation Department’s application to the coastal panel to extend the length of time the rope is up.

Bryan Pease, an attorney representing the Animal Protection and Rescue League which has been fighting in the courts to require the year-round rope, said the March Coastal Commission hearing could be “the final step in the (rope) approval process.”

He said not having a way to keep people off the beach has led to numerous miscarriages by seal mothers already this year.

He noted local government has been going back and forth on the issue with the City Council previously approving a year-round rope barrier, only to have the City Planning Commission rescind that decision.

The commission has since weighed in claiming jurisdiction and now has put the proposal on its agenda.

The prospect is distressing to Minnick

and other beach access proponents who argue all Californians have a right to be on the beach.

They contend “shared use” — the status quo — is working and there’s nothing “broken” about the current system that needs repairing.

Minnick is imploring local residents who don’t want the rope barrier up all the time to send letters to the local Coastal Commission office at: 7575 Metropolitan Drive, Ste 103, San Diego, CA. 92108-4402.

If you go

— La Jolla Parks & Beaches Inc. will discuss the seal rope

— 4 p.m. Dec. 12

— La Jolla Rec Center, Room 2, 615 Prospect S.

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