A judge has given the seal of approval to a year-round rope barrier aimed to protect seals at La Jolla’s famous Children’s Pool.
The rope barrier is designed to provide a buffer for the safety and welfare of both the seals and spectators, particularly during the seals’ pupping season from mid-December through mid-May. The rope was supposed to remain up through May 15.
Currently, all but approximately three feet of the Children’s Pool is roped off to discourage beachgoers from disturbing the seals.
At a hearing on Friday, Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman ruled the rope remain in place year-round. Judge Pressman said he hoped the decision would end years of legal wrangling between animal advocates and public beach access proponents.
The Children’s Pool rope barrier has been a long-debated, heated topic between those on both sides.
Last July, officials with the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to keep the rope barrier up year-round for at least three years to protect the seals. The City Council and mayor had also requested the rope. However, the city’s Planning Commission ultimately denied it.
Bryan Pease, attorney on behalf of the Animal Protection and Rescue League, said Friday’s ruling was a victory for the harbor seals.
Still, despite the ruling, beach access advocates say they will likely continue to fight against the year-round rope, so this controversial issue may not be over and done with just yet.
The Children’s Pool made news last month when Mayor Bob Filner issued an emergency order to close the Children’s Pool at night after a seal camera captured video of people allegedly harassing the seals.