Letters to the Editor: Hot topics include La Jolla Christmas Parade name, seals waste at Children’s Pool, leashed vs. unleashed dogs, lifeguard-tower construction



• 1) Grinches are out to steal Christmas again. Why some people never give up trying? Christmas is a special holiday that reminds us to be a gift and blessing to others. It carries the message of love and hope, goodwill and peace to all mankind from the heavens. It’s a deep tradition enriched with great stories and songs. Merchants all over the world love it because gift giving is good for business. Changing the name, Christmas, implies there is something shameful or wrong with it.

The Grinches say it is the lack of inclusiveness. To the contrary, we know it is celebrated on all continents by people of all ethnic groups, even in oppressive communist countries, with the exception of radical Islamist states that would like to see Christians and Christmas eliminated. I think the pretense of inclusiveness is a disguise for something more sinister. Perhaps it’s deep-seated vengefulness for perceived wrong doings by a few “misbehaving Christians” in the past? Few other religions preach forgiveness and tolerance like Christianity. In the name of inclusiveness, please do not exclude believers and lovers of Christmas.

Last time I checked, freedom of peaceful gathering is still protected by the Constitution. The more parades the merrier. The suggested replacement name of “Holiday Parade” just doesn’t cut it. We have holidays throughout the year. It only means to me any long weekend followed by a “no garbage pick up Monday.” As for our new city school chief Cindy Marten (San Diego Unified School District superintendent): Ms. Marten, please think how teaching the spirit of Christmas may be good for your school curriculum. Your proposed bully tactics to include street closure denial and forbidding school bands from the parade participation really smacks of tyranny. Don’t copy Vladimir Putin.

P.S. To Mr. Howard Singer, just because other cities have renamed their Christmas parades, it doesn’t mean we need to imitate them, or we should call ourselves Les Lemmings instead of La Jollans. — Sutton (Bob) Chen, M.D., Resident of La Jolla since 1965

• 2) I just read the Sept. 11, 2014 issue of the La Jolla Light. Reporter Pat Sherman’s portrayal of the La Jolla Christmas Parade meeting topic was fair, balanced and exactly right. Thank you for this report. — Fran Zimmerman, La Jolla

• 3) Regarding the Sept. 11, 2014 issue of the Light, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. There are La Jollans ready to defend all the way to the Supreme Court that what is clearly a religious symbol is somehow “inclusive” of all veterans. There are other La Jollans who want to take “Christmas” out of a parade in which Santa Claus is a participant, and yet in all of this, no one notices that the Christmas/Holiday/Inclusive/Exclusive Parade was scheduled on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor? Sunday, Dec. 7 — a date which will live in infamy, but not, apparently, in the priorities of La Jollans.

As a relative newcomer, I will assume that the parade has been held on that date in other years. Nevertheless, this year, when there is so much talk about changing the name of the parade that even the San Diego school superintendent has gotten involved, I’m sorry that no one pointed out there’s more to commemorate in December. I feel I’m as much at fault for not attending July’s LJCPA meeting, when the date was set. Civic duty lesson learned. — Karen Heyman, La Jolla

• 4) The assault on the name of our Christmas parade reported in your last issue makes me feel like one of the persecuted Christians in Iraq. This is still a predominantly Christian country and those who don’t like it should consider moving away to a secular humanist state where political correctness rules the day. When I last pointed this out in June, I got a phone call from someone who then proceeded to harass and bully me to try to change my point of view. I hope this doesn’t happen again. The current parade, which celebrates the birth of Christ, is appropriately named. Leave it alone. No one is being forced to attend. — John Cotter, La Jolla

• 5) And just who does San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten think she is? The Queen of Children? The children who are enrolled in schools within the San Diego Unified School District are not pawns of the superintendent. Her private-citizen opinions are no more than just exactly that, personal, and nothing more. No, she does not speak on behalf of the Board of Education, her employer. The “cautioning” quotation she espoused at the La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting on Sept. 4, 2014 sounds like a clear blackmail threat to me. — Jack Stevenson, La Jolla

• 6) Kudos to the La Jolla Community Planning Association trustees for their fairness, patience and understanding about a diversity and inclusiveness issue. We have been told the La Jolla Christmas Parade excludes no group; it’s name should reflect that fact and mirror the reality of our democratic, secular, global, 21st century society. Period. — Howard G. Singer, La Jolla

• 7) Your article regarding the Christmas parade seemed to be slanted to name-change proponents. I wonder if these “politically correct” individuals in their youth ever celebrated Christmas with a tree and hanging stockings by the fireplace hoping Santa Claus would fill them with goodies. School Superintendent Cindy Marten should be ashamed for threatening to deny student participation if the name is not changed. If Santa is watching these politically correct proponents, I hope he fills their stockings with a lump of coal. — Norman Henry, La Jolla

• Slow progress on lifeguard tower hurting La Jolla: Thank you to letter-writer Doug Burleigh, who in the Sept. 11, 2014 La Jolla Light was the first to say that the pace of construction for the new lifeguard station at La Jolla Cove is going maddeningly slow. As a builder, I have some understanding of schedules, and at the current pace, the work could take years to complete. This is not an exaggeration. The work began in February. It is now September. After eight months of construction, it is my guess the work is 20 percent complete. At this rate, the work will go on until summer of 2017. If the work is 35 percent complete at this time (although I doubt it), it will complete in early 2016. An interesting question to ask the architect, builder or city official is what percent of the contract amount has been paid to the contractor? That is usually a good gauge of the percent of completion.

Someone please tell me I have it all wrong! This year, due the construction, La Jolla lost the 84th annual Rough Water Swim, which has provided fun and competition for 2,000 swimmers each year (plus thousands more spectators). How much did this cost La Jolla and our local businesses? Get ready to see this event cancelled again in 2015, unless local political and business leaders do something quickly to significantly change the construction pace and have everyone involved engage in the full-court-press necessary to complete on schedule in March of 2015.

By the way, my calls to the City of San Diego phone number posted on the construction fence, which invites calls for information at (619) 833-4207, have not been returned. I hope someone with clout can do something before it is too late. For another day, we can explore why an 80-square-foot lifeguard station costs $1,850,000 ($23,000 per square foot). — Fred Steiniger, La Jolla

• La Jollans need time out to consider follies of late: Glenda Rothberg’s letter in the Sept. 11, 2014 issue relaying her experience with an Animal Control officer harassing Nancy, an elderly, handicapped woman and her off-leash dog, Pearl, left me appalled. I don’t know Nancy but I’ve frequently seen her and Pearl during my walks and it’s always warmed my heart. This dog is no threat to anyone and that officer should be fired for incompetence and abuse of power. It’s also highly unlikely that he just happened to be passing by at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, which means a neighbor must have called anonymously, which would be yet another example of the breakdown of our community where people run directly to authorities to handle minor conflicts instead of just talking to each other.

It’s not surprising, as common sense left La Jolla a long time ago. We’ve allowed environmental extremists to turn our beloved Children’s Pool and Cove area into a stinky, toxic dump of seal and bird poop where even the slightest action toward relief involves jumping through multiple bureaucratic hoops and years of wasted time. We also spend millions of dollars erecting lifeguard towers (are they gold plated?) whose building never ends, while the ugly construction shackling is left standing during peak summer seasons.

We are also on the verge of losing the word “Christmas” to activists who want it taken out of the name of a parade that celebrates, wait for it ... Christmas! C’mon folks! No one is excluded from attending or participating in the parade and many people of other faiths enjoy it. That is the very definition of diversity is it not? Even more ridiculous, we now have San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten threatening to pull student participation from the parade if the name isn’t changed. Seriously? Talk about an abuse of power! This is not progress, it’s madness, and those of us who still have and appreciate common sense need to start pushing back. We stand to lose a lot more than a beach and a parade name if we don’t. — Tricia Butler, La Jolla

• Seals at Casa Beach are a gift to us all: I, too, am tired of the so called “seal debate,” which if we were a humane society would be no debate at all. The Village of La Jolla has been abundantly blessed with many wonders of nature, among them, the La Jolla Cove, Torrey Pines State Reserve and Seal Rock Marine Mammal Reserve. I, like thousands of visitors to America’s Finest City fortunate enough to visit the seals at the Casa/Children’s Pool, have been delighted by the opportunity to view a group of wild animals in their natural habitat. What a rare and unique privilege. It is the only seal rookery on the California mainland south of Carpenteria and I am saddened and ashamed that there is a small, selfish and insensitive vocal minority in our midst that want to destroy this unique habitat.

Our nation, along with others, openly condemns countries in Africa and Asia for encroaching on habitat and displacing their wildlife. Yet we think nothing of doing here what we condemn in others. We have 73 miles of recreational coastal beaches within San Diego County. This calculates to 0.1 percent of the San Diego County Recreational Beaches being used by the seals. With our 385,440-foot coastline in San Diego County can’t we be kind or generous enough to allow the seals to have just 300 feet? For the seals the use of this tiny piece of sand is a matter of life or death. For us it is simply for recreational pleasure which could be satisfied somewhere on the remaining 385,140 feet of coastal beaches.

I would like to quote a friend of mine, Virginia McKenna, co-founder of the Born Free Foundation: “We can no longer pass through paradise in a dream. It is vanishing before our eyes and at our hand. Before it is gone forever, we must try to rekindle a spiritual awareness, try to recapture a forgotten innocence, and put ourselves into our true perspective as sharers of the Earth, as compassionate protectors, not as masters.” — Florence Lambert, 44-year resident of La Jolla

• Children’s Pool and seal waste must be addressed by the city: It is inane for a layperson to post that the presence of seal fecal matter in the Children’s Pool is somehow beneficial to the local ecology. This is akin to letting dogs defecate in a yard and saying it is beneficial for a neighborhood! The presence of so many protected carnivores in such a small area cannot benefit the local ecology. If anything, it will destabilize it by removing natural biological controls. Regarding the sluiceways, on Sept. 14, 2004, the city passed resolution 299646 directing city staff to undertake an effort to examine the feasibility of opening the sluiceways to restore water quality. Nothing was done.

On Aug. 25, 2005, Judge William C. Pate directed the city “to reduce the level of water contamination in the Pool to levels certified by the County of San Diego as being Safe for humans.” The city fought this ruling and changed the Trust governing the Children’s Pool. This change was interpreted as relieving the city of responsibility for making the Children’s Pool safe for humans. The city went so far as to request that they be allowed to close all beach access year around.

On Aug. 14, 2014 the California Coastal Commission gave the city permission to completely close the Children’s Pool beach to ALL human access for five months, considered important for harbor seal pupping. As part of this decision the city was directed to allow unfettered beach access to humans the remaining seven months and to examine the feasibility of opening the sluiceways to clean the beach. The city was given five years to come up with a plan. Given the city’s past performance, the probability that they will actually look at opening the sluiceways is remote.

The five months for seals/seven months for humans is a viable solution to a seemingly intractable problem PROVIDING the city restores the water to human contact standards. If this is not done the offer to make the beach available to humans is hollow since a potential hazard is still present, especially to children who would play on it there. — David W. Valentine, La Jolla

• Children’s Pool seal waste is indeed a problem: I gotta hand it to Jim Hudnall (Opinion/Letter to the Editor, La Jolla Light, Sept. 11, 2014). He does a great George Orwell impression: Fecal matter on the sand at Children’s Pool is good for the ecosystem; clean sand would be harmful. He presents a specious argument that fecal matter deposition at Children’s Pool is an important benefit to the health of La Jolla lobster populations.

C’mon, get a grip. La Jolla lobster populations have done just fine in all the years previous to seal over-population at Children’s Pool. As the old refrain goes: You should have been here in the ’40s. Please note, my letter here is not in any way intended as a slight to the writer personally; I’m sure he means well. I’m only trying to point out some of the misinformed ideas that have surfaced in regard to the Children’s Pool seal over-population situation. — Stephen Roberts, La Jolla

• Early mornings for the dogs is all LOLA seeks: The group LOLA (Limited Off Leash Area), in my opinion, represents the epitome of what a community can bring to bear. They are responsible, caring, considerate individuals united by their common love of their best friend — their dogs. I have met many on the beach and enjoyed their camaraderie as the dogs frolic. This has gone on for years with little, if any enforcement of the existing leash laws. These people, myself included, are not scofflaws, far from it, but have come together as a result of a demand by one individual with a backdoor to the mayor’s office, who demands there be no unleashed dogs on her beach and leash laws be strictly enforced.

My 30-pound terrier likes to play with two, 90-pound Bouviers. They bounce her all over the beach like a soccer ball, yet she comes back for more. Some dogs chase birds, some each other, some balls, and some their tails. They tire after about an hour or two in the sand and we all go home.

These people are better stewards of this beach than nearly all the people they share it with. We all pick up after our animals, each other’s animals, as well as the homeless, the smokers, the drinkers, the picnickers, the careless, and some young families who think diapers left on the beach naturally disappear. Mondays are the worst. A few hours in the morning — when no one is about — is all we are asking. By 9 a.m., we are gone. — Zeke Woolley, La Jolla

••• What’s on YOUR mind? Letters to the Editor for publication should be 250 words or less, and sent by e-mail to and please include the full name of the sender, city of residence and phone number for verification.

Note: Letters are NOT the opinions of La Jolla Light.