Seal You Later, Says San Diego Planning Commission

The fight surrounding seals and the public’s access to Children's Pool in La Jolla resurfaced during the San Diego Planning Commission's December 9 meeting. The commission heard an appeal of a September 15 decision to place a 130-foot rope barrier across the beach, leaving 3 feet near the bluff for public use.

The La Jolla Community Planning Group filed the appeal nine days after the ruling. The community planners opposed the placement of the rope, stating that the public was not notified of the environmental hearing and that the decision did not conform to the coastal land-use plan.

During public comment, people opposed to the project gave their reasons as to why the commission should reject the project. Councilmember Sherri Lightner was the first person to take the dais.

The councilmember objected to the lack of notification by the Development Services Department that the project would be exempt from California's Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). She urged the commission to support the appeal and deny the project.

"It is reprehensible that city staff did not alert my office or the community of an environmental determination with a project of this magnitude," said Lightner. "The process was not transparent, and the public was left out."

While Lightner objected to the CEQA exemption, John Leek, secretary of the Council for Divers, objected that there was not adequate public access and that the barrier prevents vertical access to the shoreline, violating the California Coastal Act.

"We love those animals," said Leek, "and we love the ocean. Nobody has the right to separate us."

After hours of public testimony, planning commissioners commented on the appeal.

"Finding number one for a Coastal Development Permit says [the project] will not encroach," said commissioner Tim Golba. "You're taking 98 percent of the access to the beach, that certainly is an encroachment."

"There's going to be an issue with a permanent barrier," agreed chairperson Eric Naslund.

At the end of the meeting, the commission voted unanimously in favor of overturning the decision to place a rope barrier on Children's Beach.

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There are so many other areas to enter the water around children's pool. Children's pool a is very small man made cove. Just leave it and the seals alone. The tourists love to watch the seals, it's great La Jolla.

But Mr Diver can't go a quarter mile to the giant diving reserve, noooo he wants to swim with the seal feces and the feeding sharks that cruise the breakwater. Great place for the children to swim too.

Exactly, chuckwalla. I was at Seal Beach a couple of weeks ago. There was one young seal up on the shore; I wondered if the poor thing was injured, or if it had been separated from its mother and just didn't know what to do. There were people getting far too close to the little creature to take pictures of it. It was very disturbing to watch. The poor thing was probably terrified.

People won't behave themselves on their own. Put up whatever kind of barrier works (I doubt a rope will be enough) and leave the poor animals alone.

The seals are more important than human tantrums about their "right" to tromp all over the place, regardless of how it affects wildlife.

Last time I went to see the seals there, they were all over at La Jolla Cove swimming. No doubt waiting for the city-approved Fourth of July fireworks.

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