Mayor’s office rejects plea to leave seal barrier up until after Monday’s meeting in La Jolla

Four San Diego City Council members’ request that the rope barrier separating humans from pinnipeds at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool not be removed before their meeting on Monday at Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla has been denied.

Ben Hueso, Todd Gloria, Donna Frye and Marti Emerald sent a memorandum to Mayor Jerry Sanders late Wednesday asking for a delay in taking the rope down. But a spokesman for Sanders said Thursday that the rope, up during the seals’ Dec. 15 to May 15 pupping season, will come down as scheduled to come down this weekend.

The mayor’s spokeswoman said that if the council decides it should remain up to afford greater protection for the marine mammals, that it then needs to go through the process of obtaining an emergency Coastal Development Permit to allow the rope to be put back up.

On Monday, the City Council is expected to vote on four alternatives for managing Children’s Pool, one of which calls for the rope barrier to be up year-round.

Councilmembers will also decide May 17 on whether to hire a privately funded park ranger to patrol the beach and lead a docent program there, whether to close the beach to people during the seals’ pupping season and whether to prohibit dogs from being on the beach at any time.

Seal advocates have been lobbying for the rope to be up all year, insisting it’s necessary as a guideline to separate the two species who jointly use the pool.

The four council members who sent the letter took their side, saying “Because the seals continue to occupy the Children’s Pool year-round, the rope barrier needs to remain in place to protect public health and safety and mitigate for damage to life, health and essential public services by preventing human-to-human conflicts, ongoing harassment and potential violence; by preventing seal harassment and associated harm to seals and humans, and by allowing lifeguards and police officers to focus on protecting members of the public.”