La Jolla Children’s Pool one step closer to winter beach closure for seals pupping season

By Pat Sherman

The City of San Diego’s Planning Commission voted 4-2 last week to recommend that the city council adopt a proposed ordinance that would close the beach at La Jolla Children’s Pool (aka Casa Beach) to all human access during the harbor seals’ five-month pupping season (Dec. 15-May 15).

The proposed ordinance would declare the area an Environmental Sensitive Habitat Area, and require a coastal development permit and amendments to the Local Coastal Plan. Access to the beach would be restricted by placing a barrier at the top of the concrete steps leading to the beach. Posted signs would notify the public of the closure.

Violation of the closure could result in a maximum fine of $1,000 or as much as six months in jail.

Addressing the Planning Commission in support of the closure during the Sept. 12 meeting, Bird Rock resident Joe LaCava said he typically champions the public’s right to access the beach, though he said he feels the situation at the Children’s Pool had become a losing battle.

“The practical reality is that the seals own the beach and they’re not going anywhere,” he said. “The city had a wide window in the 1990s to protect the beach per the community plan. They failed to do that. Holding a sharp line between wildlife habitat and human use is done every day. It was not done at the Children’s Pool.”

LaCava distributed copies of his plan to insert language into the La Jolla Community Plan that would prevent colonization by wildlife (and subsequent restriction of human access) at other La Jolla beaches in the future.

Should the city council also approve the Children’s Pool closure, it would also have to go before the California Coastal Commission before it is becomes final.

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