The ever-controversial issue of harbor seals at Children’s Pool resurfaced in June, then again a month later, during debate between seal and pro-beach access advocates on the board.
The squabble initially erupted in June when beach-access proponents expressed displeasure at the California Coastal Commission’s recent unanimous decision extending the seasonal Children’s Pool beach closure and guideline rope there for another decade.
“As we suspected, the Coastal Commission bought into extending City permits at Children’s Pool for another 10 years, even though the last permits were in place for five years,” said LJPB board member Ken Hunrichs. “They didn’t vote to study ways to improve the sand and water quality there, or disabled access.”
Predicted Hunrichs, “This opens the door now for a request to close the public beach permanently year-round.”
Seal advocate and LJPB board member Dr. Jane Reldan disagreed. “The Coastal Commission approved the City’s request for protections for the seals during the Dec. 15 to May 15 pupping season, and the guideline rope from May 16 to Dec. 14,” she said. “No one is seeking complete closure.”
In July, the board revisited the issue of seals, this time differing over board member and diver John Leek’s proposal to do a private beach clean-up at Children’s Pool.
Reldan objected to Leek’s proposal, reading a 2013 letter from the Coastal Commission warning that such beach cleanup was forbidden because it would disturb the habitat of wildlife living in residue on the beach.
“I think the City should absolutely be required to clean up the beach,” said board member Melinda Merryweather, who noted the continuing shared-use policy at Children’s Pool has created a situation where children have been shortchanged “because the pool has become a litter box.”
Board member Ken Hunrichs noted private beach clean-ups have been done numerous times in the past.
A question arose as to whether a City permit was needed to clean the beach.
“What if you’re breaking the law, and we’re giving you a big green light?,” board president Ann Dynes asked.
The board voted 15-3 to support beach clean-up of Children’s Pool.
Dennis Tomlinson, a displeased La Jolla sidewalk jewelry vendor, turned up at LJPB’s June 24 meeting to complain about the board’s opposition to SB 946, which has loosened restrictions on street vending on sidewalks and in public parks like Scripps. Showing his permits, Tomlinson insisted that the new state law that took effect in January makes street vending with proper licensing legal most everywhere.
LJPB has opposed implementation of the new law, arguing it destroys the ocean view shed at spots like the new walkway above Children’s Pool. Whether or not sidewalk vending constitutes first amendment freedom of expression is one of many legal issues in question with SB 946.
In other action:
• Board member Patrick Ahern gave an update on the Marine Street mural. “No mural is permissible at this time,” Ahern said adding that, as presently construed, it would be illegal according to existing rules governing public murals by both the City and the Public Arts Commission. In June, a local mural painter proposed doing a mural to cover the graffiti-riddled seawall at Marine Street beach. The artist submitted several prospective designs, which included one with donuts and another with an ocean theme.