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Start planning for Casa Beach

Cindy Benner

President, La Jolla Friends of the Seals

Judge Taylor’s ruling on Nov. 13 dismissing the O’Sullivan case and vacating the order to dredge the beach was a great victory for all —children, seals, residents of San Diego, visitors from around the world and the city of San Diego.

Thanks to the State Legislature for amending the 1931 Tidelands grant allowing “a marine mammal park for the enjoyment and educational benefit of children” as one of the uses for Casa Beach. Thanks also to the City Council for asking the Legislature to make this change.

The creation of the park rests in the hands of our City Council. Shared use must be re-examined as this policy will only continue to cause conflicts between beach versus seal advocates, often requiring police intervention, as well as the daily disturbances by people standing too close to resting seals. The rope placed during pupping season should be left up all year.

Having the city ask NOAA to change their signs indicating their official guidance of a 50-foot distance from the seals is recommended. Other improvements could include installing telescopes for close-up viewing and other improved signage. Casa Beach Marine Mammal Park could become a world-class tourist destination, if planned correctly.

SB 428 will become law on Jan. 1. Decisions made now can allow harbor seals greater protection and end the conflict at the beach.