City Council reviews Mayor Bob Filner's $2.75B budget proposals for the fiscal year

Focus on Children's Pool access, Balboa Park

SAN DIEGO - The City Council is scheduled Monday to consider Mayor Bob Filner's plan to shut off traffic in the center of Balboa Park on weekends and whether to close access to the beach at the Children's Pool during harbor seal pupping season.

The topics will come up as the council members comb through Filner's $2.75 billion city of San Diego budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Both issues are part of the proposed $89.2 million spending plan for parks and recreation.

The mayor wants to spend $300,000 to keep traffic out of the Plaza de Panama on weekends. He is also calling for the removal of parking in the area and resurfacing of the plaza.

The plan, a replacement for a much larger one that was nixed by a judge earlier this year, received tentative support Friday from council President Todd Gloria, who represents the area.

The parks and recreation center budget proposal also calls for $25,000 for staff to finish getting the permits they need to close off public access to the Children's Pool in La Jolla from mid-December to mid-May, when the seals are giving birth and weaning their young.

Currently, a rope barrier is in place to discourage humans from going onto the beach and disturbing the marine mammals. The rope doesn't prevent anyone from going onto the beach if they really want to, however.

The fate of the seals has been the source of a long-running dispute between animal rights groups and beach access advocates.

The City Council will also look at the police, fire and library budgets Monday.

Funding for the SDPD would increase by $4.6 million over this year to $411.2 million to restore the neighborhood policing program, add four candidates to police academies and improve equipment for officers, like gas masks, hand-held radios, firearms and riot gear.

Administration would be cut by $4 million.

An extra $18.6 million would go to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department over the current year, bringing total spending for the agency to $220.2 million.

All but $2 million of the increase will go into a category called emergency operations. The mayor has also proposed spending an extra $451,000 to add hourly seasonal lifeguards.

The library budget would jump $4.3 million to $43.6 million, mostly to cover expenses of the new Central Library.

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