By Dave SchwabThe City Council voted March 12 to spend $30,000 to apply for permitting from the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to close La Jolla’s Children’s Pool to the public to protect harbor seals during the marine mammals’ Dec. 15 to May 15 pupping season.
The action was part of the Council’s consideration of how to spend the city’s higher-than-expected tax revenue, which could bring a $16.5- million surplus by the end of this fiscal year on June 30.
Bryan Pease, an animal rights activist and First District City Council candidate opposing incumbent Sherri Lightner, said the Council’s decision was the right move.
“The Council already voted to approve this in May 2010,” Pease said. “This isn’t new money they had to allocate, just money that was within the Park and Rec Department’s budget.”
Pease said “the mayor’s office didn’t budget anything for this project, so I sued, and then the City Attorney went to the Council in closed session and the item was docketed at last night’s full Council budget session.”
Ken Hunrichs, a pro beach-access proponent at Children’s Pool, said he felt the Council’s decision was an “administrative move to get out from underneath Pease’s lawsuit.”
Hunrichs added Pease “has found a career option in suing the city,” adding “they (city) are trying to appease him hoping he’ll go away — but he’s not going to stop.”
“The City is throwing good money after bad in it’s attempt to circumvent the coastal access requirements of the California Coastal Act and the Children’s Pool Trust,” continued Hunrichs. “This $30,000 will not begin to cover the cost to the City for this attempt to bypass state law and try to close a public beach gifted to the children of San Diego in a State Tidelands Trust. The Trust requires shared use of this beach without exclusion to man or animal.”
In a separate but related matter, the Coastal Commission is scheduled to consider putting the guideline rope barrier up at Children’s Pool year-round during its July meeting in San Diego .