Seals get to stay at Children’s Pool - for now

Harbor seals are to remain at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool for at least one more pupping season while their ultimate fate is being determined in both federal and county courts.

The mammals’ pupping season extends from Mid-December to mid-May.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Yuri Hofmann conferred in closed chambers with the city’s attorney and Paul Kennerson, attorney for plaintiff Valerie O’Sullivan. He set a Jan. 5 date for the city to present a progress report on permits and timelines required to dredge sand from Children’s Pool.

In a ruling two years ago, the city of San Diego was ordered to take whatever steps are necessary to return Children’s Pool to a safe condition for human contact.

‘Get going’

“He’s (Hofmann’s) telling the city to get galloping,” said Kennerson, “and then he wants to supervise in two months what they say they’re going to do in two months. Nothing’s on hold.”

Kennerson has repeatedly charged the city with “foot-dragging” in its efforts to comply with the earlier court order, which found that the existence of seals violates the trust status of Children’s Pool and that the pool must be dredged to return it to its previous condition when it was safe.

Children’s Pool has been a de facto seal rookery since waste from the mammals fouled it, causing the county to close it to human contact in 1997. That ban has since been lifted and the pool is now open to users, who do so at their own risk.

Moved to February

Meanwhile, on a second judicial front, U.S. District Court Judge William Hayes postponed, from Nov. 25 to Feb. 13, a hearing on the fate of the pinnipeds granting them a reprieve from attempts to have them removed immediately from the area by non-harmful means.

At issue in that case is whether or not a federal permit will be required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act before seals can be disturbed at the pool.