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State Assembly passes Pool legislation

Site could be turned into sanctuary

Legislation which could ultimately lead to La Jolla’s Children’s Pool being turned into a marine sanctuary has been passed by the state Assembly and a new lawsuit has been filed by animal rights activists seeking to block seal dispersal there.

Last week, SB 428, co-sponsored by state Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, and state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, which would amend the trust governing Children’s Pool to allow seal habitation there, passed the Assembly by a 71-0 vote.

“If this bill is signed into law, it will return local control to the city of San Diego and with it the right to decide what uses are permissible at the Children’s Pool,” Kehoe said.

Deputy City Attorney George Schaefer said the fact that legislation has been passed will in no way affect competing plans the city and attorney Paul Kennerson will present to Judge Yuri Hofmann on July 20.

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Schaefer said the city’s court-ordered proposal on how best to disperse seals is “a work in progress.”

Kennerson has advocated use of a “scarecrow,” an automatically activated mechanical device much like a lawn sprinkler that would spray water at seals coming within its range to ward them off without harming them.

Should the bill be signed by the governor - who has threatened to veto all bills that come before him which are not emergency in nature until the state’s budget impasse is resolved - the law would not take affect until Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, attorneys representing the Animal Protection and Rescue League have filed a new lawsuit in Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order to bar seals from being dispersed without a permit at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool.

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The suit was filed by the law firm of Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik of La Jolla Shores against the city of San Diego and Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Asked why the suit was filed, attorney Norm Blumenthal said: “Now that a federal court has said they have no jurisdiction, we’re going to state court to put the injunction (against seal dispersal) back on. They (state) clearly have jurisdiction over the city that these seals should not be dispersed without a permit.”

Blumenthal added it is their side’s contention that there has been a sea change in law relating to seals in a recent case, Center for Biological Diversity, Inc. v. FPL Group Inc., which, he said, “recognizes that marine mammals have standing equal to humans with regard to habitat.”

But Kennerson, who’s been representing Valerie O’Sullivan and arguing in favor of the the pool’s trust which presently does not allow for seal habitation there, said: “This case (Center for Biological) was raised months ago, if not longer, in front of Judge Hofmann to no avail because he found that it did not apply. “