City to request budget funding to study closing La Jolla's Children's Pool during seal pupping season

The City Attorney’s office has announced the City Council will be requested to allocate the necessary funds to study closing La Jolla’s Children’s Pool beach during the marine mammals’ pupping season from Dec. 15 to May 15.

The City Council passed a Resolution in 2010 directing that Children's Pool be closed during the pupping season.

“In order to comply, the City would need to allocate funds for the appropriate reviews,” e-mailed Gina Coburn, communications director for the City Attorney. “We will be asking the Council to allocate those funds as part of the mid-year budget adjustments in March.”

Animal rights activist Bryan Pease, a candidate for First District City Council opposing incumbent Sherri Lighter, who has been fighting in court to keep a visual rope barrier separating the two species at the pool, had sued the city in San Diego Superior Court seeking to have the 2010 Resolution enforced.

“The process for closing the small stretch of sand where seals give birth stalled when the Mayor's office, apparently at the request of Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, failed to provide funding for staff time to process the necessary permits,” e-mailed Pease. “Instead, the Mayor's budget funded a Ranger program with tax dollars, even though the Council had voted to only allow private funding for the Ranger through the San Diego Foundation.”

Jennifer Davies, aide to Councilwoman Lightner who handles communications, said the 2010 Resolution "was a budget decision pure and simple."

The Park and Recreation Department told the Council it would not seek funding for the rope barrier due to budgetary shortfalls," she said. "As part of the budget process, the Council as a whole decided the City’s scarce funds were better allotted to such issues as ending brownouts and maintaining park and rec center hours."

As for the Ranger program, Davis noted it is being paid for through private funding and monies set aside by former Councilmember Scott Peters.

Pointing out the City Attorney had met with City Council in closed session to discuss his lawsuit, Pease said the end result is “the City Attorney has indicated an item will be docketed on the Council agenda for mid-year budgetary approval of the permit process for pupping season beach closure of the Children's Pool seal rookery. The City Attorney has agreed to support and advocate for funding the process as the Council originally intended in its May 2010 supermajority vote, and I will dismiss the lawsuit.”

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