Judge orders new hearing on clearing seals


Judge Yuri Hoffman today set a hearing for Oct. 21 on a motion to shorten the time frame for clearing the seals from the La Jolla Children’s Pool, according to attorney Paul Kennerson.

At today’s hearing, Kennerson asked the judge to order immediate dispersal of the pregnant seals. He said afterwards that Hoffman seemed to indicate that removing the seals and the dredging are separate issues.

“Getting rid of the seals … has to get done right away,” Kennerson said.

Kennerson represents swimmer Valerie O’Sullivan in the case challenging the city for violating its trust that established the wading pool.

In 2005, a federal court ordered the city to remove the seals and dredge the pool to restore it to its previous condition, but the city has said federal and state permits are needed first.

On Sept. 19, Hoffman denied a request from the city for an extension.

At that time, Hoffman required any work not requiring permitting to begin at once, further ordering the city to update the court Oct. 24 on what environmental permits will be needed to dredge the pool.

But there’s no way the permitting process will be completed any time soon, said city project officer Samir Mahmalji. “It takes 12 months to do the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR),” he said about work on the EIR that began in June.

“Once the draft EIR is done, we can submit that to the agencies - California Coastal Commission, Regional Water Quality Control Board and Army Corps of Engineers - so they can tell us what kind of permits are required, and how long that will take.”

O’Sullivan’s case claims the city has violated its trust status over Children’s Pool by allowing it to become a de facto seal rookery when it is intended to be a children’s wading pool, doubts permitting to dredge sand from the pool needs to be as extensive as suggested by the city.