Coastal Commission votes to retain seal rope at La Jolla Children’s Pool

California Coastal Commission extends permit for guideline rope at Children’s Pool until 2019

During its June 10 hearing in Newport Beach, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) voted to extend a permit for the guideline rope at Children’s Pool (AKA Casa Beach), which is intended to keep humans a safe distance from the harbor seal colony.

The CCC renewed the five-year permit for only four years, however, so that it can consider renewing it again at the same time it next considers renewing the City of San Diego’s permit for the winter beach closure. Children’s Pool Beach is closed entirely to human access during the seal’s winter pupping season, Dec. 15-May 15. The closure went into effect for the first time in December 2014. Like the rope permit, it must be renewed every five years, pending the results of a report on its efficacy.

Since a post and chain is installed at the bottom of the steps leading to the beach during winter, blocking human access, the CCC additionally required that the rope be taken down during the pupping season closure — to avoid redundancy and public confusion.

A three-foot opening in the rope will remain during summer, to allow access to the shoreline. Public access to the water is permitted May 16-Dec. 14 for divers, fishers and swimmers. The rope is intended merely as a visual deterrent from people venturing too close to the seals.

CCC program analyst Brittney Laver said the report on the efficacy of the winter beach closure — required of the City of San Diego as part of the terms of CCC’s coastal development permit for the closure — found it to be “generally effective.”

“The purpose of the closure is to effectively reduce or eliminate disturbance of the seals by humans and that was achieved here,” Laver said.

Information in the report, compiled by the city park ranger stationed at Children’s Pool, states there were four reported incidences of people either jumping down from the breakwater wall or ignoring the chain barrier at the bottom of the steps, resulting in breaches — though no citations were issued.

There were nine reports of seals being flushed, or frightened, from the beach into the water, caused by: one kayaker, two people walking around the tip of the breakwater, three people swimming within the water at Children’s Pool (presumably entering the water from another location) and three divers or spear-fishers who exited the water onto the beach at Children’s Pool with the lifeguard’s approval “for safety purposes,” Laver said.

Laver said a the city is still developing a study on the feasibility of cleaning the sand at Children’s Pool of seal waste contaminants. The study is due to the CCC when the closure permit expires in 2019.

During the recent pupping season there were 63 pups born at Children’s pool, 56 of which survived, the park ranger observed.