Sea lions climbing steps may lead to gates at La Jolla Cove

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Thousands flock to La Jolla Cove year round to get a glimpse of the sea lions that live on its rocks. 

But the marine mammals themselves have also been embarking on adventures of their own.

And that's giving the city health and safety concerns. 

The city says the sea lions have been climbing the cove's two staircases at night, getting aggressive with people in the area, and defecating in the public walkway near the lifeguard tower - creating a health hazard.

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That's why the city is asking the Coastal Commission to allow it to install gates at the bottom of each of the cove's two staircases. Lifeguards would close them each night at the end of their shift, even though the beach is open 24/7. The city would include signage to tell people that they can open the gates, even when they're shut.

"I think it would be a temporary fix until they can actually resolve the issue," said Jennifer Konopka, who was visiting the cove Wednesday. 

City spokesman Tim Graham said the gates are in no way meant to keep people from accessing the beach, but this is a proactive step to keep people and the animals safe.

Ed Harris, a lifeguard union spokesman, said the lifeguards often have to clean up the feces in the morning when they get to work, which is not part of their job. He said the union had been asking for the fences.

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