Groups Fight to Save La Jolla Seals at Childrens Pool

San Diego Residents Fight to Keep
Harbor Seals at The La Jolla Children’s Pool

Visitors watch the harbor seals at The La Jolla Childrens Pool

Visitors watch the harbor seals at The La Jolla Childrens Pool

San Diego California has a host of popular coastal spots that draw tourists and visitors alike. There is Belmont Park in Mission Beach, The Ocean Beach Pier, La Jolla Cove and Underwater preserve and also a large colony of Pacific Harbor Seals which have made The La Jolla Childrens Pool their home through out the year.

The seals draw as many as 120,000+ visitors per month and are a major draw for sight seeing tours and childrens school trip outings. The seals use the area during the puping season due to the fact that there is a retaining wall that helps protect the small section of beach from waves breaking directly in. The wall protects the beach from waves and also provides a walkway for tourists and visotrs to watch the seals.

The seals are enjoyed by a large majority of San Diego residents according to Dorota Valli who works with www.sealwatchsandiego.org helping to educate visitors about the seals and also to raise money to help fight the court case brought by Valerie O’ Sullivan who wants the seals removed.

Of course there is a huge amount of opposition to the seal removal and some of the facts of the case make removing the seals seem rather silly, especially when you consider that the plaintiff in the case Ms. O’ Sullivan, who wants the seals removed, has not lived in La Jolla for 2 years and continues residence in New Zealand.

We at SoCal Beaches Magazine, like over 90% of San Diego’s residents, feel that the seals should stay and the ONLY seal rookery south of Ventura Place should be left in place.

Here is some more information on the current status of the harbor seals and the history of the court case and more importantly what you can do to help keep the seals at the from the www.sealwatchsandiego.com website.

Dorota Valli from www.sealwatchsandiego.org answers questions about the seals legal status

Dorota Valli from www.sealwatchsandiego.org answers questions about the seals legal status

Watch La Jolla Harbor Seal Videos
Seal Watch San Diego.org video about the seals
Seals at La Jolla Cove
Seal pup nursing with mother seal La Jolla

You can also get more on the seals at www.lajollaseals.com

More harbor seal photos and video
http://www.socalbeachmag.net/placestovisit/lajollachildrenspool.html

Victory for the seals in federal Court!

On December 18, 2008, a federal judge finally ordered San Diego city officials to install a rope barrier to help protect a colony of seals during pupping season! Bryan Pease, pro bono attorney argued before Judge Hayes in the federal courthouse last Friday,December 12, that the Marine Mammal Protection Act pre-empts state law and that the City of San Diego cannot be required by a state law to destroy a federally recognized seal rookery. The rope will be installed early next week and is expected to stay at least until February 13, 2009 when the case is heard in the court (and hopefully till the end of May, 2009, the end of seal pupping season).

Huge victory for our cause, just in time for the holidays.

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Important court hearing

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on October 21st, 2008, that prohibits the city of San Diego from immediately dispersing harbor seals from Casa Beach. Thanks to Bryan Pease, pro bono attorney representing La Jolla Friends of the Seals, seals will be able to rest at least till February.

The hearing is scheduled for:

February 13, 2009, 9:30 AM

The Federal Courthouse

940 Front St.

Judge Hayes, Courtroom 4 (4th floor)

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20081023-9999-1m23seals.html

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Help us save the seals at Casa Beach in La Jolla!

Casa Beach in La Jolla, California (a neighborhood of the city of San Diego), is the home to a rookery of harbor seals that is beloved by local children, adults, and thousands of visiting tourists. Hundreds of local businesses have stated that the presence of the seals is beneficial to the La Jolla economy, and La Jolla’s own tourist brochures endorse a visit to watch the seals and their pups on the beach as a popular tourist activity.

But a tiny group of people, motivated by greed and ignorance, has decided to endorse a destructive dredging of the beach, under the spurious notion that the seals “pollute” the area with their presence. This dredging would to drive the seals away permanently and would make it exclusively for human use, despite the fact that San Diego is full of other beaches for humans and Casa Beach is the only harbor seal rookery in Southern California. The Save-our-Seals Coalition, composed of animal protection and environmental groups and concerned citizens, has been fighting these efforts every step of the way.

The City of San Diego tried to protect the colony by placing a rope guideline informing the public about the safe distance from the seals. Unfortunately, a swimmer, Valerie O’Sullivan, sued the City of San Diego (of which La Jolla is a part) and won a ruling in 2005 from a now retired state court judge ordering the city to dredge the sand on which the seals rest to return it to its 1931 condition as a “bathing pool.” The judge ordered the City to remove the rope and awarded O’Sullivan’s lawyer, Paul Kennerson, a shocking sum of 1.3 milliondollars in attorney’s fees.

The City appealed the ruling all the way up to the California Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. Now under the direction of Superior Court Judge Yuri Hoffman, the city is being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to carry out the dredging project.

The only seal rookery in Southern California south of Ventura county is at risk of being destroyed!

Tuesday, October 21,Judge Hofmann took under submission a motion brought by anti-seal lawyer Paul Kennerson to require the city to immediately disperse the colony of harbor seals living at Casa Beach in La Jolla. City attorney, Mike Aguirre, showed up in person

to defend the seals against proposed harassment.The city has already installed police cameras at the beach to record any disturbances caused by a ruling against the popular seals.

Kennerson represents ex-La Jolla resident Valerie O’Sullivan, a New Zealand resident who moved back to that country two years ago with no intention of returning. Yet, the court continues to require the city to pay Mr. Kennerson’s bill for attorney’s fees in the case, which have totaled over $1.25 million dollars so far.

A previous ruling Kennerson won required the city to dredge the beach to return it to its 1941 configuration as an artificial “bathing pool.” Because it will take years to obtain the state and federal permits to do that, which may never happen, Kennerson is now arguing that what the order really means is that the city must disperse the seals. However, declarations filed by marine biologists and NOAA in support of the city argue that dispersing the seals would require 24/7 harassment and would not improve water quality.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20081022-9999-1m22seals.html

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We need YOUR help in the following areas:

1. Contact Senator Christine Kehoe and ask her
to sponsor new legislation to amend the archaic 1931 Tidelands Grant that prevents the City from protecting the seals:

2. Sign a petition: Ask California Legislators to Protect San Diego Seals

http://ga0.org/campaign/sdseals

3. Write to your Councilmemeber and ask them to support the new state legistation to amend the archaic 1931 Tidelands Grant that prevents the City from protecting the seals:

Click here for a sample letter to Councilmember Sherri Lightner

District 1 (La Jolla)Sherri Lightner
202 C Street, MS #10A
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-6611
SherriLightner@sandiego.gov
District 2Kevin Faulconer
202 C Street, MS #10A
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-6622
kevinfaulconer@sandiego.gov
District 3Todd Gloria
202 C Street, MS #10A
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-6633
toddgloria@sandiego.gov
District 4Tony Young
202 C Street, MS#10A
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-6644
anthonyyoung@sandiego.gov
District 5Carl DeMaio
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-6655
carldemaio@sandiego.gov
District 6Donna Frye
202 C Street, MS #10A
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-6616
donnafrye@sandiego.gov
District 7Marti Emerald
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-6677
martiemerald@sandiego.gov
District 8Ben Hueso
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-6688
benhueso@sandiego.gov

4. Contact the California Coastal Commission and ask them to vote “NO” on the dredging of Casa Beach.

Please refer to California Coastal Commission application 6-05-098 from the City of San Diego for a Coastal Development Permit, project location: “Children’s Pool…,” and project description: “The project scope is to excavate approx. 3,000 cubic yards of sand to return the beach to the 1941 configuration…” Letters must be faxed or sent via snail-mail, not email.

California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219
Fax: (415) 904-5400

5. Be a volunteer with our SealWatch San Diego program

in which people work in shifts at the beach to educate visitors about avoiding seal harassment, and advise them to view the seals from a respectful distance. If you would like to participate in this program, please contact Dorota Valli at Dorota@APRL.org

6. And last, but never least, we need MONEY!

Funds are needed to keep our campaign in the public eye, hire beach security, support our media ads and printed materials as well as cover the costs of litigation. Please donate to the Seals Fund in care of:

Animal Protection and Rescue Leauge
302 Washington St. #404
San Diego, CA, 92103
http://aprl.org/contribute.html

Other ways to help:

Harbor seal information from Seal Watch San Diego

Harbor seal information from Seal Watch San Diego

For more photos and video of the seals at The La Jolla Childrens Pool visit
http://www.socalbeachmag.net/placestovisit/lajollachildrenspool.html

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