Opening sluiceways proposed again as way to clean Children’s Pool


What do you think?

Should the city re-open long-dormant sluice gates on the seawall at Children’s Pool to clean the contaminated sand? Share your thoughts in a letter to the editor by e-mailing

By Pat Sherman

At its May 21 meeting, Parks and Beaches approved sending a letter to the city’s director of parks and recreation, Stacey LoMedico, asking that the city “investigate the benefits of re-opening one or more of the four existing sluiceways (or sluice gates) in the Children’s Pool seawall as a mitigation measure to correct the excessive buildup of contaminated sand.”

A rope separating seals and humans during the seals’ six-month pupping season came down May 15. Proponents of keeping the rope up year-round note that the county health department has determined the water and sand at Children’s Pool to be unhealthy for human use, largely due to contamination from seal excrement.

Those who are advocating for full, year-round human access to Children’s Pool feel that opening the sluiceways would flush the beach out and make it clean enough for human use, removing one of the seal advocates’ trump arguments for a year-round rope barrier.

Parks and Beaches member and seal advocate Jane Reldan said that after the seawall was constructed in 1930, under the guidance of hydraulic engineer Hiram Newton Savage, the sluiceways were immediately closed due to the excessive amount of sand that was being flushed out to sea. Concrete was later poured into the sluicegates to seal them off, and parts of them were removed. During the late ’70s, when the walkway atop the seawall was rebuilt, access points where the gates could be lowered and raised were covered over.

“If it is determined that this measure is technically not possible then we would ask for your staff to prepare an alternative plan to mitigate the sand and water quality issues at the site,” the letter states, in part.

One committee member chimed in, stating that not using the sluice gates was like having a car without using its brakes. “There’s a purpose to the sluiceways in the wall and they’ve never been used,” she said.

It was noted that a proposal was made several years ago to remove contaminated sand and seal waste from the Children’s Pool beach, though the city denied the request based on potential environmental impacts.

“I think you’re going to get the same answer back because you’re just going to have the same issues,” another committee member said. “I don’t see that it’s beneficial.”

Parks and Beaches member Ken Hunrichs noted a study conducted by Testing Engineers-San Diego in 1998, which demonstrated the feasibility of reviving use of the sluice gates.

He said reinstallation of the gates would allow for movement of water and sand in a “natural manner.”

“It appears as though (the city) never really gave much of a chance for the gates to be open and closed,” he said.

The California Coastal Commission is set to hear the city’s petition for a permit allowing a year-round rope at its July 11-13 hearing.

Chairman Patrick Ahern suggested moving discussion of the sluicegates to a later date, perhaps September, after the Coastal Commission had made its decision.

In other committee action

• Liability insurance

Parks and Beaches Vice-president Dan Allen discussed the possibility of Parks and Beaches obtaining liability insurance. He said he felt it was not warranted since the group doesn’t hold regular events or workshops where it would expose itself to liability. The group also has little money in its bank account, he said.

“I think we need to look at this in a new light because, as I will soon report, we will have money very soon,” said Treasurer Phyllis Minick, noting a recent $5,000 donation to the group’s Coast Boulevard Walk beautification project from Dr. and Mrs. Jafar and Sophia Farnam.

“I think there are so many issues around this area that garner lawsuits, and several members have spoken to me about some of the risks of our many projects. If I’m going to be out running around asking people for money, I’d like to know that I’m not placing all of us in a state of risk.”

Parks and Beaches recently established a page on the San Diego Foundation’s website where people can obtain information about the nonprofit organization and make a donation.

To view the page, go to

, click on “find an organization,” and type in La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc.

• Taste at the Cove

The group also gave its blessing to the San Diego Sports Foundation’s annual Taste at the Cove event, slated for Sept. 6, which raises money for the rehabilitation of injured youth athletes.