Lawsuit filed over sea lion stench at La Jolla Cove

Group wants fence removed, access restored

LA JOLLA, Calif. - A lawsuit has been filed in Superior Court seeking a way to eliminate a public nuisance in La Jolla: the nauseating smell of sea lion waste.

Michelle Davison was holding her nose as she aimed her video camera at the beauty of La Jolla Cove. The stench of sea lions below was overwhelming. “It just comes through in waves,” she said. “It's like it doesn't smell then all of a sudden it hits you. And we just ate, too. We don't want to smell that.”

Joey Hoagland is another visitor from out of state. “It's good and bad. It's their home, too. I see the other side of things but yeah, it's pretty raunchy.”

It's a common complaint and one detailed in a lawsuit brought by Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement.

Nearby restaurants and hotels talk about losing lots of business because of it.

Mike McCormack lives nearby. “It just is overwhelming. They tried to clean it up but it's still really strong.”

Bryan Pease is the plaintiffs' attorney. “If the city were to take that fence down and increase coastal access, let people go out and climb around on those rocks, the sea lions and birds would just go somewhere else.”

The fence was erected because of the unstable cliffs but the suit suggests that a gate should be installed; allowing people easier access to the rocks below and therefore rousting the sea lions.

“The sea lions are versatile, agile and they can climb up on rocks and cliffs. They don't need this area so it's unlike the La Jolla Children's Pool issue where harbor seals with little flippers need sandy beach to haul up on and when they poop, it gets washed out into the ocean.”

Assistant city attorney Paul Cooper gave this statement to 10News: “The City has not yet been served with this lawsuit, however, the City is aware of the problem and is actively exploring mitigation options. Any lawsuit seeking to mandate mitigation options that the City is already exploring would be counterproductive.”

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