Officials stall on Cove stench cleanup in La Jolla

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner recently brought together the players who will need to approve any plans to cleanse the Cove rocks of the bird and sea lion feces odors.

District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner met with representatives from the Regional Water Quality Control Board and California Coastal Commission, as well as staff from San Diego’s Park and Rec and Stormwater departments and community leaders to discuss options for addressing the La Jolla Cove odor issue. According to a representative from Lightner’s office, last week’s meeting resulted in the following discussions and outcomes:


All agencies made it clear that there are no overnight solutions and no options to address the odor that would not require any permits or review by the Coastal Commission and

Regional Water Quality Control Board. In particular, there is no legal means to obtain a permit to power-wash the cliffs, as has been suggested by many citizens. This would damage the cliffs and would violate a ban on discharging any substance into the ocean beneath the cliffs, which is a protected Area of Biologic Significance (ASBS).


Since there are no products on the market that have been used in a similar coastal bluff setting, stakeholders in the issue must find a way to test any potential product to make sure it will neutralize the odor without creating any runoff into the ocean or other harmful effects to the environment.


Representatives from Lightner’s office said they are working with Scripps Institution of Oceanography to conduct a test of the available products. Once a successful test has been completed, stakeholders can seek permits to use one of the products at the Cove.


Lightner’s office also is requesting that the County of San Diego test the air quality at the Cove to determine whether there are any harmful effects to the air caused by bird and marine mammal waste on the rocks.

Merchants demand candidate support for stench cleanup

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association sent a letter to mayoral candidates Bob Filner and Carl DeMaio dated Oct. 11, along with a copy of its Sept. 12 resolution on the cove stench issue.

The resolution “calls on the city to accept responsibility for resolving the problem, safely, effectively and expeditiously.”

The letter requests the candidates’ support for the resolution, urging them to express their “written commitment that, if elected, you will do everything in your power as mayor, with our support and that of our community, to identify and implement a sensible solution to this serious problem and to overcome any existing bureaucratic obstacles to such a solution.”

— Staff Reports