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Lightner asks for feasibility study on beach leash laws

First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner has called on the city of San Diego to assess whether changing the leash laws at the Children’s Pool would be a way to comply with the court’s order to disperse the seals.

She sent a memo to Mayor Jerry Sanders Thursday asking the staff to explore the cost, safety and effectiveness of expanding the existing policy for dogs on leashes in analyzing possible ways for dispersing seals from Children’s Pool beach should that be ordered by the courts.

“We would also like the mayor’s office to provide the public with additional details on how they developed their seal dispersal plan, what alternatives were considered and why they were rejected, and how or if any pubic input was incorporated into the plan,” she said in the memo.

Lightner said Friday the idea about the dogs came from a public query about whether or not they are allowed on the beach. On Friday morning, the two women who sent the note were at beach with their dogs and were warned by the women who were staffing the information table not to harass the seals.

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“We know the city has beaches frequented by dogs,” she said. “We just want some parameters, get some costs.”

Beach regulations allow dogs on beaches before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. in the summer, and after 4 p.m. during winter.

This week, Judge Yuri Hofmann ordered the seals to be dispersed but rejected a plan for doing so submitted by city officials, asking them to return with a new plan June 15. Also at issue was whether a temporary restraining order at the federal level barring seals from being dispersed remains in effect.

Lightner added any plan to comply with the court order also needs to protect the safety of both humans and marine mammals while minimizing the impacts on surrounding residents and businesses. The plan must also comply with the Marine Mammal Protection Act , which forbids harassment of animals.

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She added she wants to be sure there is time for public input on the seal dispersal plan.

“We’re asking for any and all ideas people have,” she said. “We are very concerned with public safety and community participation.”

Lightner added she felt Thursday night’s public forum with police discussing safety issues at Children’s Pool “was helpful in making sure everyone understands what the laws are.”