The Children's Pool in La Jolla has caused disagreement between environmentalists wanting to protect harbor seals and beachgoers seeking unfettered access. San Diego 6 News now reports that the California Coastal Commission decided in favor of the seals.
How does the California Coastal Commission intend to protect seals living around the Children's Pool in La Jolla?
By allowing the city of San Diego to install a year-round rope barrier, those seeking to protect the seals hope to keep humans and animals separated.
Can a rope prevent human-seal interaction?
In the past, the rope was put up between December and May, when the seals would pup and wean their young.
"It seemed to me that the rope worked. When it came down, that's when things started to go under," a member of the commission told the news outlet.
Did the commission actually close the beach to the public?
No. UT San Diego refers to the rope barrier as a "visual clue only," since beachgoers can crawl underneath or climb over it. Environmentalists, such as La Jolla Friends of the Seals, point to human-seal interactions they have termed "assaults" on the animals. They consider the rope barrier a "small concession."
What does the opposition to the rope barrier say?
Members of Friends of the Children's Pool are on the other side of the issue. The group considers public access to the Children's Pool area as being endangered, which is in clear violation of the conditions under which the property was deeded to the city. Charging that "animal rights activists with control issues have a goal of beach closure," the group recalls instances of beachgoers being harassed while attempting to exercise their legal access rights to the beach.
Who is right?
It is true that the embattled beach property was received from Ellen Browning Scripps in 1930, under the condition that the area would become a "public park, bathing pool for children, parkway, highway, playground" and used by the public with "the right of convenient access." In its addendum to San Diego's rope barrier application, the California Coastal Commission points to the three-foot opening in the barrier that allows for public access. With this compromise in place, the commission believes both environmentalists and beachgoers find their interests protected.
Is a shared beach arrangement workable?
Friends of the Children's Pool suggest that water E. coli counts are higher than the county health standard permits, which may endanger the health of beachgoers. On the other hand, as noted by San Diego 6, humans getting too close to seals have scared them into returning to the water, which may adversely affect pups. Putting it in perspective, a wildlife biologist opined, "I really feel for the people who may have lost their beach, and I believe Children's Pool is not a public beach any longer. It hasn't been a public beach for a long, long time. It's a harbor seal rookery and haul out."
Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.
- California Coastal Commission
- La Jolla
- San Diego