Merchants consider mist, unused fees to rid sea lion waste at La Jolla Cove


Tickets available now for second La Jolla Day at Petco Park, 1 p.m. June 14

During La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s (LJVMA) May 13 meeting at Cuvier Club, president Claude-Anthony Marengo discussed several ideas to eliminate the odor at La Jolla Cove proposed during the past month by the heads of community organizations and members of the public.

La Jolla Town Council (LJTC) held a forum last month on the growing sea lion colony at La Jolla Cove, the excrement and urine from which is now believed the dominant source of the pungent, business-deterring odor that has permeated the Village that past few years.

In response to the forum, several people submitted ideas on how to deter sea lions from the Cove and reduce the stench, including part-time La Jolla resident Rick Edward Richards, who mailed custom T-shirts to several outlets, including LJVMA and La Jolla Light, to promote his proposal.

Although Marengo noted Richards’ concept — using the jet pack from a jet ski or personal water craft in reverse to hose down the cliffs with high-pressure seawater — was explored earlier and deemed untenable by the California Coastal Commission (due to its potential to erode the cliffs), Marengo said La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory committee chair Dan Allen is proposing a similar concept to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) that involves misting the rocks.

Marengo said CCC’s Alex Llerandi seemed initially amenable to Allen’s mist proposal. “It’s more consistent with what you see from rainfall and sea water rising,” Marengo said. “The Coastal Commission thought that was interesting and wanted to see if it had any merit and wouldn’t be an erosive process.”

While Allen and LJTC President Steve Haskins met earlier this month with officials from NOAA Fisheries to discuss the sea lion issue, Marengo said he met with the office of 78th District Assemblymember Toni Atkins, who has been apprised of both the seal and sea lion colonies since she served on the San Diego City Council, and pledged her assistance to help move forward any potential solution that “had legs.”

Marengo also suggested suspending nets over a large portion of the bluffs to create a barrier preventing sea lions from climbing up onto them and defecating, while still providing birds a ledge to rest. Marengo also said he recently purchased dog whistles of various frequencies to see if the sound causes sea lions to flee the rocks and beach. “I’ve got three new ones on my desk that I’m going to go try,” he said.

Meanwhile, Marengo’s wife, Deborah Marengo, is proposing another solution that involves using a pool of about $400,000 in unused developer impact fees (DIF) collected in the ’70s and ’80s to solve the problem. The fees were collected to establish remote parking lots and a shuttle system to increase access to the coast by easing parking and traffic congestion in the Village. Deemed unfeasible, a community Coastal Access & Parking Board that Deborah Marengo chairs has reduced its monthly meetings to quarterly because the city and CCC have repeatedly precluded alternate suggestions to spend the money.

In the end, a motion to write a letter to the City of San Diego and CCC requesting the unused fees be used to hire city Park and Recreation employees to cleanse the cliffs passed unanimously.

“By cleaning up the rocks you’re providing more coastal access to the beach,” Claude-Anthony Marengo said. “Hopefully that gets legs.”

In other LJVMA news

More event trashcans requested: LJVMA, which uses an assessment on local businesses to woo shoppers and tourists to La Jolla’s business improvement district, also approved a motion to send a letter to the city requesting all permits for special events include the placement of additional recyclable trash cans in the Village that would be removed on the Monday after the event.

The request was made following observations that litter from people attending special events is often found overflowing from public trashcans onto streets and sidewalks in the Village days after an event.

“We want them to come into the Village and come and see our stores, but they’re dragging up all their stuff with them, and then dumping it on top of walls, all over the place,” Marengo said, noting that additional trashcans would be used during this year’s fireworks display at La Jolla Cove, which was also discussed.

Fireworks partnership: LJVMA trustees also passed a motion to partner with fireworks organizer Deborah Marengo to produce this year’s display at La Jolla Cove (including the addition of more trashcans in the Village). The board voted in favor of having the nonprofit La Jolla Town Foundation corporation process donations for this year’s event for a 1 percent administrative fee.

End of Summer Fire Run: Trustees also made a motion to approve the End of Summer 4-Mile Run/Walk (formerly End of Summer Fire Run/Walk), 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, which kicks off at Fay Avenue and Prospect Street — provided organizers add additional trashcans along the route, which winds down La Jolla Boulevard into Pacific Beach. Registration is $42 through June 15. More info at

La Jolla Day at Petco Park: LJVMA’s second “La Jolla Day at Petco Park” will be 1:10 p.m. Sunday, June 14 when the San Diego Padres take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tickets are $34, with $5 from each ticket benefitting LJVMA’s efforts to kept the Village clean and trash-free. Buy tickets through Sheila Fortune at (858) 454-5718 or stop by La Jolla Village Information Center, 1162 Prospect Street.

— La Jolla Village Merchants Association meets second Wednesdays at Cuvier Club, 7776 Eads Ave. Meetings are open to the public. More at