Letter to governor urges quick action on La Jolla Cove odor

Smell linked to bird droppings piling up on rocks

SAN DIEGO - The campaign to stop a pervasive smell in a part of La Jolla has hit a snag.

At the Brockton Villa restaurant, the smell of tasty food is in the air and so is something else.

"It was strong and stinky," said customer Nelly Van Ommering.

It is a nearby stink emerging from nature's beauty. At La Jolla Cove, rocks that are supposed to be brown are instead streaked with white, a sign of bird droppings piling up.

"Everybody is always saying, 'Excuse me, what's that smell?'" said restaurant server Sandy Paslawsky.

Until a few years ago, the odor was not a big problem because the bluffs were open for people to walk on. Since the rocks have been closed off, the droppings have increased.

Paslawsky says because of a lack of rain or anything to wash away the droppings, customers in the past year have routinely left the restaurant in frustration, minutes after they sit down. 

Hundreds of businesses and residents – many concerned about the impact on health – signed an online petition asking San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner to clean it up.

In response, Lightner sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown's office.

In the letter, Lightner points out a solution: biodegradable cleaners that could remove the bird waste. That solution would require a two-year process of obtaining state permits.

"It's just going to get worse and worse … They can't wait years and years and years," said Paslawsky. "Something has to be done and acted upon now."

Lightner agrees. In the letter, she writes, "We need the state to solve this problem. This timeframe for state agencies to process these permits is simply unacceptable."

"It's a beautiful place," said Brockton Villa customer Cathy Krowsie. "To have that odor while you are looking out spoils the atmosphere."

Lightner has canceled plans to introduce a city council resolution on the cleanup so she can focus on the state efforts.

Both the governor's office and Lightner were not available for a comment.

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