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Letters to the editor: March 8, 2007

Thumbs up for new trustees

La Jollans for Clean Government, La Jolla’s community watchdog organization, www.LaJollaWatchdog.org, applauds the recent election of six new trustees for the Board of the La Jolla Community Planning Association (CPA), the official planning board for La Jolla.

La Jollans for Clean Government has been pursuing reform of the CPA for several years now. Specifically, the CPA’s hsitory of secret meetings, backroom deals, violations of the Brown Act and other corrupt practices which led to a lawsuit being filed last year. But with the recent approval of new By-Laws and the election of six new trustees past problems appear to be heading towards an appropriate resolution. These new trustees have promised to create an open and transparent public process of the CPA, and understand their responsibility in preserving and enhancing La Jolla’s small-town atmosphere.

For many years the CPA was simply a rubberstamp for local land development interests whose only concern was making money at the expense of our quality of life. We believe that these new Trustees will bring respectability to the proceedings of the CPA, and we hope they will also continue their efforts to convince city officials to accept the new CPA by-laws, which were overwhelmingly endorsed by the general membership in February.

Steven W. Haskins

Attorney for La Jollans for Clean Government, Inc.

Addressing seals everywhere

I read the article on the new ordinance proposal for protecting harbor seals at the Childrens Pool (Anti-harassment ordinance presented to City Council, 3/1/07, Page 3). The problem is that harbor seals are also found at other beaches in San Diego. In La Jolla, they are found on the low intert idal rock reefs of La Jolla Cove, Shell Beach and South Casa Beach. Harbor seals are also starting to use the La Jolla Cove beach as well. Harbor seals are also found at a beach near Point Loma. In fact, harbor seals may use any beach in San Diego at one time or another. As the harbor seal population in La Jolla expands there may very well be pupping season ropes installed at the La Jolla Cove, Shell Beach and South Casa Beach. While some harbor seal pups are born on the beach at Children’s Pool, many others are also born in the ocean or at other beaches in San Diego.
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What about California sea lions and northern elephant seals which also use San Diego beaches? What about California sea lions which use the bays (e.g. San Diego Bay buoys) in San Diego? The special protection law must also apply to these pinnipeds. In fact, the special protection law must apply and be enforced at all San Diego beaches and bays.

Kent Trego

La Jolla

A war with no end in sight

We are sending thousands and thousands of men and women dedicated to our country to fight a war that has no end.

The forces we are sending to Iraq are not adequately equipped. The American military has repeatedly gone without armor, vehicles and communications equipment.

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The forces we are sending to Iraq are not adequately trained. Troops are sent back too soon between deployments and too much is demanded of them to be phyiscally or psychologically prepared.

Our injured troops from Iraq and Afghanistan are not being adequately treated. Many of these soldiers are barely 18 years old. They are not able to cope with the stress of war during or after. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is rampant, this breeds a generation of angry young men and women who are not being adequately supported or treated.

Both the political parties need to stop blaming each other, and the Republicans need to support legislation to provide proper equipment and training. The war is not working; we need diplomacy at home and abroad.

Alegra Bartzat

San Diego

La Jolla tourist speaks out for seals

I escaped snow-bound upstate New York for a February visit to San Diego. I took great pleasure as a visitor in the beaches. And a highlight of my stay was a visit to the seal beach in La Jolla. Here I was amazed to see mothers feeding their young and supervising new-born babies in their swimming. The grace and speed of the older animals in the clear water was a marvel and their coming and going a delight to watch.

It is a rare and wonderful thing to be able to observe wild animals interacting with their natural environment at close range. There was something incredibly comforting in seeing these animals carrying on, a few yards away from thousands of busy humans and their vast infrastructure of roads, apartments and houses.

I would urge the residents of La Jolla and San Diego to set aside this tiny bit of shoreline as a sanctuary for the exclusive use of the seals. Their existence literally depends on having a beach that’s near deep water to rest and nurture their young. We on the other hand, have many miles of beach to stroll on or otherwise enjoy.

And we need them. If we humans are to thrive ourselves as a species, we need to see them and celebrate their life. We need to know they exist. If this world no longer has room for seals, what else are we squeezing out of existence? Can we live alone on this earth as the only large non-farm mammal left? I suspect we cannot live well in such a condition for any length of time.

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Susan Peterson Gateley

Wolcott, New York

Applause for San Diego City Council

It is heartening to see that the San Diego City Council is willing to address the problem of unrelenting harassment of the harbor seal colony at Casa Beach. I appreciate the difficulty of the Council’s role in this issue that is more appropriately the responsibility of federal authorities. But in the absence of federal intervention the animals are at constant risk, especially now during the pupping season. A municipal ordinance giving local officials the authority to cite people for harassing the seals would not be a waste of resources, as Scott Peters suggests, but in fact a very wise decision. The seals are a great asset to La Jolla, the city of San Diego, and the entire county as they are a strong tourist attraction, provide endless hours of free entertainment, and create a virtual classroom for humane education and appreciation of wildlife in a natural state - the single antidote to San Diego’s culture of captivity. The least we can give in return is some effort to protect them while they rest, give birth and nurture their young.

The near-daily harassment currently endured by the seals is orchestrated by a small group that will no doubt challenge the new ordinance initially. But since the great majority of people at Casa Beach respect the animals and voluntarily remain behind the rope barrier, there would probably be few instances after that when local officials would be called upon to issue citations. Only a handful of people use the beach for swimming, so lifeguards will not be distracted from rescues. Such arguments are hollow. But empowering local authorities to act on those occasions when the seals are menaced makes good sense and is clearly needed. There is already a California regulation prohibiting people from harming animals on beaches, so the concept is not new. But the new law will address marine mammals specifically and their unique situation. “Shared use” has proven deadly to many a seal pup, and cannot be tolerated as a disguise for harassment.

I urge the City Council to pass this ordinance as they wait for the existing legal battles to play out, demonstrating humane and responsible stewardship of our wildlife - and hopefully putting some of the bullies out of business. The well-documented link between animal abuse and other forms of criminal behavior augments the case for this ordinance, and should find our police officers and other officials more than willing to support and enforce it.

Jane Cartmill

Encinitas


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