San Diego City Council affirms La Jolla Children's Pool decision

SAN DIEGO - Without comment, the San Diego City Council voted 5-3 Tuesday to affirm a previous decision to close the Children's Pool in La Jolla to people during harbor seal pupping season, which runs from Dec. 15 to May 15 each year.

The new regulation, if given final approval by the California Coastal Commission, would be far more restrictive than the current rope barrier, which is designed to discourage beachgoers from disturbing marine mammals at the scenic La Jolla facility.

The Children's Pool was deeded to the city in the 1930s to be a safe swimming spot for youngsters. Seals moved into the area in the 1990s and have become the focus of a dispute between animal-rights supporters and beach-access advocates.

If the Coastal Commission approves, the new regulation will bar people from using the Children's Pool during seal breeding season. The city plans to install a chain across the stairway to the beach.

Council members Mark Kersey, Sherri Lightner and Scott Sherman cast the dissenting ballots. Lightner, who represents the area, fought the closure when it was first approved last month.

Opponents contend the seal population is exploding, and that they are not a threatened or endangered species. Supporters of the closure, however, said harbor seals require a sandy beach during pupping season, and cannot make use of nearby rocks like sea lions can.

City staff expects the Coastal Commission to take up the issue at a meeting in August. Commission staff supports the seasonal beach closure.

If approved by the commission at that time, the chain would be installed in time for the Dec. 15 closure.

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