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OUR READERS WRITE: Come on now city! Step up trash pickup in the Village! ... plus comments about troublesome sea lions, Cove stench, Children’s Pool and more La Jolla topics

It’s interesting how the trash is so gracefully balanced on top of the trash container in this photo taken Sunday, April 26.
It’s interesting how the trash is so gracefully balanced on top of the trash container in this photo taken Sunday, April 26.
( / Holly Hauske)

— Opinion / Letters to the Editor / Our Readers Write —

• Come on now city! Step up trash pickup in the Village!

It’s interesting how the trash is so gracefully balanced on top of the trash container in this photo taken Sunday, April 26, early afternoon. I pulled into this parking spot in the Village on Girard Avenue and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And these store owners are paying high rent for this curb appeal in La Jolla? Terrible! What is being done to improve trash can cleanup by our City of San Diego? This is totally unacceptable. — Holly Hauske

• La Jolla needs city’s help to deal with Cove sea lions

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After talking with San Diego lifeguards stationed at the La Jolla Cove and attending the La Jolla Parks & Beaches Committee meeting last week, it is clear to me that the City of San Diego must pay immediate attention to the serious conflicts with California sea lions at the La Jolla Cove.

First of all, the sea lions are creating a public safety threat for all who go to the Cove — including visitors and city employees. The sea lions are interfering with the working environment of the lifeguards, as they have to spend a great deal of time keeping people at a safe distance from the sea lions on the beach. Also, sea lions present on the stairs and walkways at the Cove block access to the beach for lifeguards and visitors.

Now the large territorial males have found their way up the stairs to the walkway above the beach. If these large sea lions can get this far, they can make it to the park level and colonize the lifeguard area and the bathroom/shower area of Scripps Park.

Also, the sand on the beach must have high levels of bacteria from the high density of sea lions on the beach. Sea lion waste is an issue at the La Jolla Cove and is present on the beach, on the stairs and on the walkway above the beach.

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The City of San Diego must consider this a very urgent issue at this popular beach and with summer coming it needs immediate attention. — Kent Trego

• I’m hoping Cove stench solution comes soon

I walk along the cliffs north of the Cove frequently and I agree the stench is coming from there. The guest commentary by Andrew Shorestein in the April 23 La Jolla Light is the best solution proposed that I have read. Now, if we could just get the correct people in place to solve this terrible problem, The Jewel would shine once again. — Peggy Mullen

• Public health is at stake due to sea lion presence

Theoretically speaking, the sea lions in La Jolla could be compared to a pack of coyotes that is proliferating in public. They both threaten the viability of businesses, households and human safety. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife is responsible for both coyotes and sea lions, along with NOAA for the sea lions (due to the Marine Mammal Protection Act).

There is no hesitation over removing coyotes when they jeopardize a ranch or the safety of a community. The sea lions also jeopardize human health by leaving their waste rotting all over the coast so people have to walk in it and breathe the nauseating airborne particles day and night. There is no hesitation about removing coyotes when they gather profusely and bite or chase or bare their teeth to threaten and/or hurt people. The sea lions have been increasingly involved in these behaviors.

Interestingly, the Fish & Wildlife website directs people not to swim in the area of sea lions to avoid possible shark attacks and infectious diseases. It also recommends that nuisance coyotes be removed as soon as possible to avoid a worsening fearlessness of humans, which leads to more problems. La Jolla’s sea lions and the seals should be removed ASAP. Next, the beaches, cliffs, stairs and walkways should be cleaned. Let’s restore La Jolla’s coastline as a safe environment wherein people can live, play and conduct business. — Robert Fletcher

• La Jolla has become butt of stench jokes

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Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to Patrick Ahern of the La Jolla Parks & Beaches committee and forwarded to La Jolla Light.

I am reaching out to you as a member of the LJPBC. Last night (April 27, 2015) I was at a convention hall meeting for students interested in Ivy League Colleges. There were five admissions directors who had come from the East Coast to recruit the top academic students from San Diego. There were at least 500 people in the audience, if not more.

The program opened with a comment about how fortunate they were to be out here in lovely San Diego after their winter, then moved on to the joke punch line; however, we will take our horrible winters over the stench and feces in La Jolla any day.

The whole audience roared in laughter, even myself, I must admit the delivery of the joke was outstanding. However, as a 22-year La Jollan, a part of me was very sad that it has come to the point that our beautiful town is now the punchline on a joke.

Feel free to forward my email to anyone who may listen and take action to restore La Jolla to the beauty it once was. — Cynthia Chasan

• My grandkids know La Jolla’s Cove stench all too well

On the morning of April 28, I drove three of my grandchildren to school. We were moving along Prospect Street and passed the La Valencia Hotel, when there was a terrible smell. With two grandsons in the backseat, I immediately started my speech about the rudeness of what our family calls “barking spiders.” They all laughed and announced in unison … “It’s the Cove, Munya!” We have a big problem. — Anne Marshall (Munya)

• Let the ocean cleanse the shore

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Regarding the Cove Stench ... has anyone thought of pumping natural sea water from the ocean and power washing the rocks periodically? No chemicals, and it should make everyone happy. Sounds good to me! — Chuck Wayland

• Serving the community and traffic board is a privilege

I have been on the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation board for approximately eight years and been the chair for six. I am not sure if you were aware, but the April meeting was my last. I wanted to use this opportunity to thank La Jolla Light’s readers and the community at large for giving me the honor of representing them to the city on traffic and transportation issues. I appreciate the confidence that the representatives of the five community groups placed in me to appoint me six times as chair.

During my tenure, I had the pleasure to work with many devoted community members on the T&T board. I am proud of what we accomplished as a board. I wanted to personally thank Sherri Lightner, Erin Demorest, Justin Garver, and everyone in the city’s Traffic Engineering Department for implementing the recommendations our board made. They spent countless hours behind the scenes supporting La Jolla. I also want to thank the San Diego Police and Fire Departments for their willingness to work with our board and come to our meetings.

Finally, I want to thank the La Jolla Light for devoting its resources to having reporter Ashley Mackin cover our meetings. She did an excellent job of reporting what was discussed. — Todd Lesser

Editor’s Note: Mr. Lesser is leaving the board so that other representatives from LJSA may serve. T&T includes two reps from five community groups.

• La Jolla High School’s track: Use it responsibly or lose it

La Jolla is unique in that its public high school allows the public to use its athletic field for informal athletic recreational purposes such as jogging. In 2007, the principal locked the public out after evidence that irresponsible use was deteriorating the facility. Some of us from the community opened a dialogue with the principal, and urged he reconsider. He agreed to reopen the track to public use subject to our following some simple rules. These are clearly posted at all the entrances to the field, and around the track. Examples are: Jog in outer lanes. No dogs allowed. No wheeled items on the track, like scooters, strollers, bikes, skateboards, etc.

Initially folks generally respected these rules. Occasionally, either I, or others, would remind our neighbors why this was important, and generally people complied. More recently, I see increased disregard of the rules, as though people believe rules don’t apply to them. I have seen a father and his son fly a remote control plane all around the field while their unleashed dog ran helter skelter barking loudly. A woman was jogging and her dog was running beside her on the track! Families with children permitted them to ride their bikes or scooters on the track.

I hate to see this disrespect of sensible use rules by a few endanger the enjoyment of this wonderful facility for everyone. Can we please act like responsible adults? — Igor Grant

• A toast to Ms. Merryweather!

Every time I use Torrey Pines Road, I send up a silent thank you to Melinda Merryweather. It was her foresight and persistence that caused the City of San Diego to cut down the bushes, which have been hiding one of the most beautiful views of our coastline. I hope the city finishes the job and cuts down the ugly stumps. If we had a few more Melinda Merryweathers around town, maybe we could again have the clean, lovely and charming Village I moved to 20 years ago. — Nancy Shields

• Unholy Covenant: Mythical shared use of Children’s Pool

In 2014, the City of San Diego made a covenant with the California Coastal Commission to close the Children’s Pool to humans annually, Dec. 15 to May 15. In exchange, the city is to remove beach impediments on May 15 and allow unfettered human access; that is, no chain will close the stairs, and no rope on the beach will limit human entry. However, the covenant/agreement is silent as to making the beach safe for humans or removing the harbor seals. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has not agreed to this exchange, which, if fully implemented, would require the removal of seals.

Presently, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), humans simply stepping onto the beach could be and are ticketed for harassing seals. In fact, the MMPA is an act to protect seals from people, not people from seals. This covenant promising a shared beach is unholy because the city will open the beach but its use will be severely constrained by a rope referred to as a “visual barrier.” However, beachgoers crossing to enter the water risk being ticketing by the NMFS.

The “covenant” also states that the city is to examine ways of cleaning the sand and water of seal feces accumulated there from the ever-growing number of animals.

Oddly, the city asserts this beach has never been cleaned by city workers, although numerous lifeguards and years-long visitors have testified to routine cleanups in the past. This beautiful ocean pool protected by a sea wall, which the city and state agreed to maintain “in perpetuity” (forever), has now become a filthy marine zoo – a threat to public health.

Proposed City Action Plan: Clean the beach immediately after opening it for human use and regularly thereafter. Remove the “visual barrier” rope and all barriers to legal ocean entry. Assure that people using the beach safely and legally will not be ticketed.

Apply MMPA section 109(h), which states: Nothing in this title or title IV shall prevent a Federal, State, or local government official or employee or a person designated under section 112(c) from taking (removing), in the course of his or her duties as an official, employee, or designee, a marine mammal in a humane manner (including euthanasia) if such taking is for: (i) the protection or welfare of the mammal, (ii) the protection of the public health and welfare, or (iii) the nonlethal removal of nuisance animals. — Mary Ellen Morgan

• Happy to see street keeper

Lately, to my delight, I have noticed some La Jolla streets are looking very clean. This morning I saw a man picking up trash with some gadget. I do hope more people will be hired to clean streets in all of La Jolla. — Dr. Inge Vucelic

Editor’s Note: No doubt you saw Jeff Gerwin who is picking up litter in the Village with his efforts paid for by donations to his Go Fund Me page.

• Kudos for excellent reporting

I just finished reading the article on the Whitney project in the April 30 La Jolla Light. I want to congratulate the paper and the excellent reporter Pat Sherman for the unbiased, accurate account of the situation. All of us are very pleased. — Myrna Naegle

• Kudos should be given to water conservers

Given the exceptional drought the majority of this state is in, I’m surprised that national papers far removed from California have done the best and most thorough media coverage on this topic. When my family visited New York City last summer just about every friend and family member we saw brought up the drought within the first few topics. It was a reality check.

Why aren’t we talking about this more with neighbors and friends here? Would you consider a new feature in your paper highlighting the changes local families are making to reduce or reuse their water? Every day as I drive on Prestwick Drive in La Jolla Shores I’m impressed to see many homes have recently let their front lawns die. Others have already replaced their lawns with gorgeous draught-tolerant landscaping. How about some before and after shots? This street has some very smart and eco-conscious residents. Good things are contagious! — Edi Nelson

Editor’s Note: Having just returned from a vacation drive up the coast to Monterey, I can report California’s central coast has surely been affected by the lack of water — at The Getty Villa, the pools and fountains have been drained; at Hearst Castle, the restrooms have been closed and visitors must use porta-potties outside the entrance; and along the great Grapevine pass, farmers have posted miles of roadway signs blaming the politicians in Sacramento for the lack of water. Furthermore, restaurants were not serving water unless requested, hotel room showerheads were modified to reduce water flow, guests were urged to curtail maid service, and just about everywhere were notices reminding visitors of California’s drought conditions. As San Diego reacts to the crisis, news coverage will increase. The Light loves your idea for publishing the before and after photos of La Jollans’ efforts to reduce water use. We welcome the first submissions at editor@lajollalight.com

• Town Council, Planning Association must join forces to end Cove Stench

Those who have followed the controversy surrounding the odor emanating from La Jolla Cove are aware that the culprit is sea lion fecal material. Temporary measures to alleviate this situation have been suggested. What is needed is a permanent solution: removing the source. Federal law makes it is illegal for any state or local government to regulate marine mammals within their jurisdiction with one exception. The city claims it cannot control the sea lions at the Cove; the situation is beyond the city’s jurisdiction, so it is essentially futile to push the city to take a leadership role.

It is illegal to harass marine mammals under federal law. That makes it illegal to encourage the harassment of marine mammals as the city has done by removing the barrier separating humans and sea lions. The city has not been, is not now, and never will be, monitored by NOAA for its Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) actions. The federal government will not prosecute the city for MMPA violations.

Historically, only District 1 City Council representatives have been in favor of addressing marine mammal problems at local beaches. The city has been remarkably successful at doing nothing. But now it is faced with a more important challenge about increasing risk to the city from aggressive harem bull sea lions. The city can use the MMPA section 109(h) exception to remove the sea lions from the bluffs and beaches with impunity if it so desires. Thus far, it has not been politically expedient to do so.

MMPA Section 109(h) states, in part, “any local government official or employee or a designated person has the right to remove a marine mammal for the protection of the public health and welfare or of a nuisance animal.” Presently, it is less expensive for the city to do nothing than to act. A La Jolla organization officially sanctioned by the city would be allowed to act under MMPA Section 109(h)

The La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) operates under City of San Diego City Council Policy 600-24. This policy states in part, “It is also the policy of the City Council that the City shall indemnify, and The City Attorney Shall defend, a community planning group or its individual members in accordance with … An Ordinance Providing for Defense and Indemnification of Community Planning Groups”

The city is obligated to defend the LJCPA as a group, and individually, for acts it performs as part of the “official” duties — whether paid or not.

Since the LJCPA is an arm of the City of San Diego it retains the right to designate a person(s) right to remove a marine mammal for the protection of the public health and welfare or of a nuisance animal. All that is lacking are some funds and the will to remove the sea lions.

The best group to act is the La Jolla Town Council (LJTC). It has access to the business community most impacted by the sea lions, but it does not directly have the authority to act: it can be given that authority by the LJCPA! I suggest LJTC make arrangements to remove the sea lions from the Cove under the direction of the LJCPA, which has the legal authority to so. If the city will not help us solve our challenge then we must do it ourselves. — David W. Valentine, Ph.D., Retired UCSD marine biologist

Kayakers may have a link to Cove stench

May I make a simple suggestion for quelling the stench at La Jolla Cove? Keep the kayakers away from the rocks along the Coast Walk cliffs where the sea lions and their harems used to live. I’ve lived in La Jolla for many years and there was never a stench problem at the Cove until the hoards of kayakers came right up to the rocks and scared the sea lions away, so they took up residency on the rocks at the Cove. Return them to the Coast Walk cliff rocks, keep the kayakers out of the area with buoy markers and warning signs and, hopefully, no more Cove Stench. — Barbara Seegmiller

• Seals, sea lions would be better off in Baja

As a 48-year resident of La Jolla, I’ve had many occasions to swim and snorkel in the Children’s Pool along with maybe a dozen or less seals playfully swimming near and right up to me. Fearless and curious. Not even slightly harassed by my presence in the water. I’ve seen the hundreds of letters over the years regarding the seals and always read them while shaking my head at both the absurd amount of time and energy spent on the topic and at how poorly so many people try and argue their case for why the seals should be welcome at the Children’s Pool and now sea lions at La Jolla Cove.

Recent letters stating the seals “were here first and are now living in a Marine Protected Area” and “harbor seals and sea lions have a right to be here as it is their habitat not ours” are both technically correct. The OCEAN is their habitat. We, as land dwellers have the LAND, which includes the shoreline and beach as our habitat. We take the occasional dip into their habitat and they sun themselves in our habitat. For decades, they did this quite happily on Seal Rock, well away from the shoreline.

The problem is our dips into their habitat last from 10 minutes to maybe a couple of hours (if we’re SCUBA diving). While there, we don’t defecate; don’t give birth (and all that entails); and we aren’t a danger to the marine life we are swimming around. They, however, spend hours in our habitat polluting it, threatening our inhabitants if they come too close, birthing, dying, urinating and defecating, and generally causing a disturbance and nuisance to what is normally a safe, serene environment.

Please spare me the idiocy of trying to bring to this debate big industry, be it oil or fisheries, as examples of those same human offenses. That issue has zero relevance to this problem.

Realize also that there are thousands of miles of sandy beaches from here to Cabo San Lucas that are wide open and free of human “harassment.” I suggest not only relocating the seals but helping to fund seawalls up and down Baja to accommodate the pupping season and bring similar tourism to those towns.

We all, supposedly, so hugely benefit from having the Children’s Pool (and now the Cove) as such big tourism draws to our area, despite the polluted waters and bluffs — both of which have been the REAL draw for decades.

Perhaps Baja California could also benefit from the ability to see Marine mammals hauling out in their habitat. We could help by relocating a few of our treasured tourist-dollar draws as a good faith gesture, and then we might even get back some of those other tourists who used to come here for the clean air, serenity, sand and safe beaches that La Jolla Cove and the Children’s Pool once were. You know, the ones who used to come and stay in our hotels for a few days or for a few weeks? Eat at the restaurants? Shop the Village? Instead of just the ones we have now who come for the day to take photos and gawk from the bluffs above, leave litter in the streets from their fast-food lunches picked up on the way in, and then leave only to be counted as a “visitor to see the seals.” Starbucks probably benefited, so that’s cool. Right? — Kevin Osment

• Village employee parking taints residential streets nearby

I’m writing to once again talk about issues in the Park Row area. Our streets are in horrible condition with curbs broken and trash everywhere. The concern to be addressed by the Village merchants is that their employees park in our neighborhood because we have a 72-hour parking restriction that allow waiters, clerks, etc. to park all day and into the night without paying or being ticketed. I’ve lived on Park Row for four years now and not once has the gutter area of the street been swept. The street cleaner does come every other month on the third Thursday, but when he arrives at 9 a.m., the street is filled with the parked cars of folks working in the Village and thus the area where trash builds is never cleaned.

You can only imagine the items that accumulate … or maybe you can’t. For example, this week human waste with towels was left across the street from my home on the circle on Park Row.

I suggest that the business community take a closer look at how they affect the neighborhoods of our Village with their employee parking etc. How do we get someone to clean the human waste in the street where maybe visitors might park and might step in? The Park Row area is a victim here. — Ed Witt

• Fun dance class at community center needs more participants

I’m writing to share my enthusiasm for an unusual class I discovered at the La Jolla Community Center. It is a very small class, and I find it so stimulating and enriching that I fear unless a few more people learn about it, our wonderful teacher might not be able to continue. The class is “Ico Dance.” You mention it in your community calendar, but unless you see what happens in this Monday morning hour, you would not know why it is so extraordinary.

I’ve always been a terrible dancer. In eighth grade (the Dark Ages), I took the required “social dancing” class in gym. For a while, I could do a two-step, a fox trot, and even (with some tension) a waltz. But soon rock and roll began, and I was lost. I felt awkward, clumsy and completely disconnected from rhythmic movement. As the years passed, I became too embarrassed even to try. I resigned myself to having little or no connection between my brain and my feet.

Enter “Ico Dance.” A friend encouraged me to try this class, just once. When I finally did, I fervently wished I’d been able to have such a class years ago. Our warm, joyous and incredibly supportive teacher, Amanda Banks, leads us through exercises in body awareness, then simple guided dance steps (not so simple for me, but I’m progressing!) and finally, free dance expressions in which we move to music in our own different ways. This class has been a revelation. I can dance!

“Ico Dance” is open to men and women of all ages, and at the moment, we have one man and four or five women, ages 50s (I’m guessing) to an exuberant dancer of 82. Amanda has made a short video of the class that she put on YouTube. You might enjoy seeing what our tiny but varied group can do. I know your feature space is incredibly limited, and I’m sure you are besieged by readers who want their own favorite organizations highlighted, but I’m old enough to know that “Ico Dance” is something very special. — Susan Allen Toth

• Loss of recycling center causes a hassle for local residents

When Haggen took over Albertsons on Turquoise Street last month, they cleared out the recycling center that was set up there for residents in Bird Rock, La Jolla and Pacific Beach. It was such a good service and contributed to reducing our trash as well as reclaiming our CRV fees. Now we have to drive out of the area — definitely more hassle. — Beryl Flom

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• WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?Letters to the Editor for publication in La Jolla Light and lajollalight.com should be 250 words or less, and sent by e-mail to editor@lajollalight.com and must include the full name of the sender, city of residence and phone number for verification. Note: The content of letters are not the opinions of La Jolla Light.