SAN DIEGO – A San Diego judge has ruled that a barrier rope next to seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla can stay up year-round.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman issued the ruling Friday. The Children’s Pool area was deeded to the city in 1931 to be used as a safe swimming area for children. Harbor seals began taking it over in the early 1990s.
Currently, the barrier is only up during the seals’ pupping season, from Dec. 15 to May 15 of each year. It runs across most of the opening to the beach and is meant to discourage beach visitors from disturbing the seals and their newborn pups.
Both the San Diego City Council and the California Coastal Commission approved year-round rope deployment, although that actual permit had been denied by the city’s Planning Commission, which has final say over some land-use issues.
Bryan Pease, attorney for the Animal Protection and Rescue League, called the ruling a victory for San Diego harbor seals and said the judge “set aside that denial as an abuse of discretion.”
On March 19, Mayor Bob Filner issues an emergency order to close the Children’s Pool at night, through the end of pupping season. The order came in response to recently installed seal cam videos of people entering the area at night to kick, punch and sit on top of the mammals.
“It really should have been held for the purpose it was built for and donated to the city for. It was not for seals. The seals are fine – they can be here. But the kids come first as far as I’m concerned,” said Ken Hunrichs with the Friends of the Children’s Pool, a group that wants the beach given back for public use after pupping season ends.
A legal challenge to the overnight closure is expected to taken up in court next week, U-T San Diego reported.