LA JOLLA, Calif. -
There's a foul stench in La Jolla Cove, and it has become so bad that many business owners and residents are signing a petition to get rid of the offending odor.
"It is thick and it's nasty," said La Jolla resident Jeffrey Smith.
"It gets worse as you get closer," said businessman Ryan Callan.
The culprits are cormorants, and the brown rocks in La Jolla Cove have turned white because the birds have defecated so much.
"The birds have just made this their home," said Brockton Villa Restaurant General Manager Megan Price.
That home -- La Jolla Cove -- now smells.
"I could feel like a presence on my body as I'm walking through this," said Smith.
The big problem is when it's hot and windy, the smell gets worse and blows into the businesses right across the street.
"You walk down the stairs like our clients would and you think, 'Geez, it's really starting to reek right here,'" said Callan, of Callan Capital.
Callan Capital has a view of La Jolla Cove, but it's also downwind.
"It just kind of brews it up and we close the windows down as quickly as we can," said Tim Callan.
It's bad news for outdoor dining. Several restaurants told 10News diners regularly leave because they can't handle the smell.
"Sometimes you can taste it. It gets to the point where it gets into your nose and your mouth," said Price.
Hundreds have already signed an online petition addressed to San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who represents the area. They're asking her to help clean up the bird excrement.
"I mean, everybody's on the same page. It's just affecting our business," said Ryan Callan.
Lightner's office emailed 10News the following statement:
"Councilmember Lightner is well aware of the problem and has been working diligently with the community and state agencies to find a common-sense solution. She is reaching out San Diego's state legislators asking them to help solve this issue as quickly as possible."