Learning to co-exist with the La Jolla seals


Judge Timothy Taylor has spoken and, at least for now, the seal controversy has a place on the shelf. But we all know it isn’t a shelf set in concrete since the matter now is in the hands of the City Council, which must determine how to create “a marine mammal habitat” at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool.

And don’t forget, although attorney Paul Kennerson said it could be the end of the legal battle, he’s waiting to hear from his client who started the struggle.

Both sides of this fight had a basis for their arguments.

The water at the beach is so polluted that most parents — many who learned to swim there — won’t allow their children near the water, as Ellen Browning Scripps envisioned when she entrusted the Casa Beach to the state.

On the other side, there are fewer places for the seals to have their pups, as sheltered spots along the coast have been taken up for marinas or other development.

The future remains complicated: There is no beach as sheltered as the Children’s Pool where our youngest can safely feel the ocean’s caresses and gain their first taste of learning about our ocean.

Yet we can’t overlook the fact that the same beach with seals can still offer a learning environment.

The beach as a tourist attraction has been part of the argument for keeping the seals there, while others have contended that the buses and cars bringing tourists do little to boost the success of our merchants and only add to pollution and congestion in the area.

Where will those tourists, whose numbers are likely to increase, park once a marine park is established?

Will whatever rules the City Council establishes be subject to the California Coastal Commission’s intervention — or another judge’s?

In the bigger picture, what does the decision — and the state Legislature’s intervention in changing terms of Ellen Browning Scripps’ trust — mean for others who would consider donating property to the city in the future. Will they hesitate, fearing that their wishes could be upended in the courts?

As the city’s staff and council members move toward adding an official home for the seals to the city’s valuable natural assets, we encourage them to think creatively. Is there a way for seals and children (and divers and swimmers) to peacefully — and safely —co-exist?

Let’s hope everyone offers inventive suggestions that can turn the tide away from the combative scenes we’ve experienced at one of La |Jolla’s best-known spots. In the meantime, assuming the rope barrier goes up next month without a challenge, let’s leave this controversy on the shelf and focus on spending money on protecting our beaches instead of in the courts.