Seals staying for now

Following a judge’s decision last week to delay his order to disperse the seals from the Children’s Pool after the governor signed a bill that would allow a marine mammal park, both sides in the debate are positioning for their next moves.

Listen to proposed dog barking audio files.

The maneuvering follows Judge Yuri Hofmann’s July 23 decision to suspend his earlier ruling ordering the city to disperse the seals that day. He has set a new hearing for Oct. 6 saying, “We need time to sort through and review the effects of the legislation.”

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith successfully argued that SB 428’s passage gave Hofmann just cause to reconsider his decision to immediately disperse seals.

Attorney Paul Kennerson, who has been arguing for years to protect the terms of the trust for Children’s Pool setting it aside in perpetuity as a safe wading pool for children, said he hadn’t thought it quite through, but would soon be challenging the constitutionality of SB428 in an appropriate fashion through the legal system.

“This thing is far from over,” he vowed. “The judge in my view improperly delayed enforcing his judgment because the governor signed this amendment to the trust.”

He added, “The Legislature cannot be the judicial branch amending laws to take final judgments away from litigants.”

On the other side, retired civil engineer Katheryn Rhodes of Point Loma, a former La Jolla resident, called upon California to go a step further than SB428 - which is specific to the Children’s Pool - and “create a state marine reserve in La Jolla to protect the seals.”

Rhodes suggested it might be one alternative to extend the existing La Jolla Ecological Reserve, which protects the Cove and La Jolla Shores, to include Children’s Pool in order to “protect the seals from fisherman and their lines and hooks.”

In that vein, she is urging people to attend an Aug. 3-4 meeting in Carlsbad when the working group considering the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA will hold a public workshop.

Monday’s meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn, 850 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad, while Tuesday’s begins at 8:00 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 6450 Carlsbad Blvd.

The seal supporters have been joined by La Jolla students, Summer Dunsmore and Renatta Escobedo, who were on the front lines during last week’s protests at the pool and the courthouse.

Dunsmore also created a Facebook page supporting the cause.

Meanwhile, Stacey LoMedico, director of the city’s Park & Recreation Department which would have the responsibility for dispersing the seals should the order be reinstated, downplayed reports about the volume of the sounds of dogs barking that would have been used.

She was responding to a Union-Tribune story that stated the sound level could reach 109 decibels - similar to a rock concert.

“The (court) order was to disperse the seals in the best fashion possible with the least disruption to those who use the beach,” she said. “Can I give you an exact volume? I can’t. I can only tell you we have plans to use a speaker directed at the seals to be able to disperse them at the minimal level, both physically and with sound.”