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Shores sets up group to examine watercraft ban

A committee will research relevant laws and carefully word a proposal restricting motorized watercraft in the area between La Jolla Point and Scripps Pier, the La Jolla Shores Association board decided last week.

This comes on the heels of last month’s association vote to recommend rejecting a proposal for personal watercraft tours being launched at the Shores.

Jim Heaton, board chairman, said at the May 13 meeting that his main fear concerning motorized watercraft in the marine reserve area is that they will chase away the leopard sharks - forever.

After speaking with a marine scientist from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he said his understanding is that “once they’re gone they’re gone.”

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“I’d hate to be sitting here two or three years from now saying we had a chance to do something about that,” he said.

Most everyone else attending the meeting also expressed support for banning motorized craft, so much of the discussion centered around how far north to extend the proposal’s boundary--Scripps Pier or up to Del Mar?

Exceptions would be made for watercraft run by law enforcement, lifeguards, the Coast Guard, and recognized research vessels like those currently launched from the Scripps Pier.

The committee will include representatives of key groups like the Surfrider Foundation, the oceanography institute and others.

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Tim Lucas, however, was a lone dissenting voice on the board. He noted that the launch at the Shores is the only public one along the coast in the city of San Diego and that the water off the beach is out of the association’s jurisdiction.

“This is a federally navigable waterway,” he said. Lawsuits would be sure to come, especially from fishermen, he noted.

But Heaton spoke as chair of the board: “I will be prepared to take this to state and federal representation.”

On a brighter and less contentious note, Mary Coakley gave an update on the Kellogg Park Playground at the meeting as well. “We have the equipment up,” she said. “There are three more weeks of work left.”

“On June 5, sand goes in, and we’ll open the playground well ahead of the ribbon cutting.”