LA JOLLA – The Children’s Pool beach in La Jolla was reopened to the public Tuesday, now that pupping season is over for the harbor seals that inhabit the scenic location.
Part of the reopening included putting up a rope to serve as a guide for people, who are asked not to get too close to the marine mammals. Harassing or disturbing the seals is a violation of federal and local laws, according to the city.
The Children’s Pool was deeded to the city in the 1930s as a safe swimming spot for youth, but seals began moving into the area in the 1990s to birth and wean their young. That touched-off a decades-long dispute between supporters of animal rights and advocates for beach access for people.
The battle is currently tied up in court.
The San Diego City Council in March 2014 approved a ban on public access during pupping season, between Dec. 15 and May 15. The action, applauded by wildlife advocates, came after instances in which people harassed newborn seals and their mothers.
However, opponents fighting for beach access rights sued, and a judge in Orange County found that the council and California Coastal Commission failed to follow proper administrative procedures in developing the ordinance.
The city appealed and asked for an automatic stay to be removed. Appellate justices granted the motion, allowing the city to close the beach during the winter and early spring.
Now that the beach is open again, city park rangers and lifeguards will monitor the area to keep the public and wildlife safe, city officials said.