La Jolla

California Coastal Commission votes to close Point La Jolla year-round

San Diego City Council will make final determination on closure of the sea-lion pupping areas

To protect both wildlife and the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the sea-lion pupping area at Point La Jolla, the California Coastal Commission voted Thursday to recommend closing the area year-round.

It is one of the coastal commission's responsibilities to make public beaches and the California coastline accessible to all.

At the beginning of this year, the San Diego City Council put in a permit-change request to close Boomer Beach and Point La Jolla, expanding the closure dates from May 1 to Oct. 31, according to staffers at City Councilman Joe LaCava's office. The California Coastal Commission approved the city's request last year, and last night voted to expand it to recommend the closure year-round.

Now, the decision is in the San Diego City Council’s hands.

By most accounts, the closest competition to a La Jolla Coast sunset is the wildlife that bathes in its warmth.

"It’s the quintessential part of La Jolla is having the seals, the bird," visitor Brooke Larson said.

Larson lives locally and decided that the area was where she wanted to spend her birthday with friends.

“We’re grateful just to be able to walk out here and see this environment," La Jolla resident Tu Vu said.

Vu and his girlfriend, Ruby Jimenez, who live just across the street, check out the sea lions daily.

"They deserve the respect and the safe distance from humans," Jimenez said. "Just as we deserve space to put our homes around our neighbors."

When push came to shove, the coastal commission decided that humans are the visitors and that Boomer Beach and Point La Jolla bluffs belong to the animals.

"We love to see the little ones but from a safe distance," Jimenez said.

During last year’s pupping season when the area was closed, as it is now, there were no reports of negative interactions between people and wildlife, according to the Coastal Commission. Once it reopened, though, it was a much different story.

Despite lifeguard orders, a snorkeler seen who was shot on video could not resist the opportunity to pet a sleeping pup. This interaction went viral. In another incident posted online, a little girl was spotted throwing something at a sunbathing sea lion.

"It’s, one, dangerous — so scary for both the animal and the people," Larson said.

"We don’t want to harm them," Vu added. "You don’t want to get too close."

If the San Diego City Council approves the year-round closure, visitors would have the same limited access to the area between the Children's Pool and La Jolla Cove. There would be additional signage and park rangers monitoring the area, and the steps to Boomer Beach would be permanently closed.

"Some people might be upset because they won’t be able to access the beach, but as long as they are safe and they’re OK, we’re OK," Vu said.

La Jolla is a destination for tourists and locals alike. The experience may change, but is it enough to turn people away?

"Tourism is never going to stop," Jimenez said. "It's never going to slow down. The beach is enough to bring people here. The animals are a perk.”

The San Diego City Council is expected to consider revising its current closure dates for that area at its Sept. 18 meeting. If approved, the year-round ordinance would likely take effect in November.

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