Court says city can keep closing Children’s Pool for seals

SAN DIEGO — A state appeals court Thursday upheld a longstanding policy that allows the city to close the beach at Children’s Pool in La Jolla to protect harbor seals during their pupping season.

The policy has been the subject of protracted legal battles over access to the picturesque, public beach. The Children’s Pool was deeded to the city in 1931 to be used as a safe swimming spot, but the seals moved into the area in the 1990s — leading to the controversy.

According to Coastal Commission staff, water quality is poor in the area because of the seals, so it is no longer a good place for swimming. Opponents of the closures say the seal population is exploding and that they are not a threatened or endangered species.

But California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed an earlier, lower court ruling that sided with opponents to the beach closures, stating Thursday that the city is legally justified in closing the beach from December through early summer each year.

The report notes that “often visitors to Children’s Pool Beach, either negligently or intentionally, disturbed the seals,” leading to “a variety of negative consequences, including abandonment of pups, premature births or abortions and stampeding adults that kill pups. Further, when disturbed, seals nipped humans.”

The public is still allowed access to the area’s breakwater for walking, fishing or viewing the seals.

You can read the full ruling here.