Group Sues City Over La Jolla Cove Odor

A fence allows birds and sea lions to climb higher up the bluffs

A non-profit organization is taking legal action over the noxious odor at La Jolla Cove.

“Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement” is suing the city of San Diego, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and the state of California.

According to the complaint filed in Superior Court, the plaintiffs claim it’s the city’s responsibility to keep the public area free of the offensive smell, which it has failed to do.

Read the Complaint

The group says the city is to blame because of a fence erected along the sidewalk that spans the cove. Because people don’t have access to the rocks anymore, birds and sea lions can climb higher up the bluffs to defecate, they claim.

The complaint alleges that people have become sick and nearby businesses have lost revenue because of the odor. According to the lawsuit, boxer Floyd Mayweather booked two villas and six rooms at the La Valencia hotel, only to leave 15 minutes later because of the smell, costing the hotel more than $5,000 in one day.

Owners of the La Valencia Hotel and George’s By the Cove – two prominent La Jolla businesses – say the city is dragging its feet to fix the smell problem, which many believe is a growing issue.

Some locals that spoke with NBC 7 Friday said the fences designed to keep people off the bluffs are making the sea lions feel more at home in La Jolla, adding to the waste problem.

Mother and son Nancy and Michael Garcia visited La Jolla Cove Friday and said the stench was difficult to ignore.

“My son just had to go up to the bathroom to throw up,” said Nancy. “He really didn’t like it. No, it was really bad.”

“I can’t go past this point,” said Michael, visibly nauseous from the smell. “It feels pretty bad.”

However, other locals who spoke with NBC 7 don’t agree and say the smell is hardly noticeable.

“It doesn’t bother me that much,” said La Jolla T-shirt salesman David Norton. “I guess I’m accustomed to it.”

Visitor Carrie Hunt doesn’t think the smell will deter people from going to La Jolla Cove.

“They come here even to see this – it brings them here. Then they go to the restaurants. It probably isn’t the other way around,” she said.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say the lawsuit is not about money, but about forcing the city to pay attention to the problem and remedy the situation.

A spokesperson with interim Mayor Todd Gloria's office says they're working towards a solution quickly and will be taking several steps in the coming weeks to try and curb the problem.

The stink at the cove has become a hot topic. Earlier this year, a private company was hired to spray the rocks with a bacteria to eat away the droppings. Former Mayor Bob Filner rallied behind the cove cleanup efforts, vowing to help wipe out the stench lingering in La Jolla.

The 10-day, $50,000 process took place in June, months after the initial complaints began surfacing.

Locals had to acquire permits and wait for bird nesting season to end.

About a decade ago, the city put up a fence for safety reasons to get people off the rocks. Since then, birds took over, creating the mess causing a stink in San Diego's elite seaside community.

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