Is the Fate of La Jolla’s Seals Sealed?

On May 27, a San Diego Superior Court judge reiterated his 2005 ruling that the city removes seals from a La Jolla cove that is supposed to be a children’s bathing area.

The judge, Yuri Hofmann, scheduled a June 15 hearing to consider the city’s proposed plan to chase the seals off through recordings of dogs barking and jets of water. The city estimates its strategy will cost $700,000. It has already spent more than $1 million in legal fees on the issue.

Hofmann’s ruling that the seals must go is the opposite of that of a federal judge who in 2008 issued a restraining order against their removal, while determining whether the seals are protected under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The seals, the conflicting court rulings and how the city copes with the issue are the subject of legislation.

The measure, SB 428 by Sen. Chris Kehoe, a San Diego Democrat, would amend the 1931 trust giving the city the property. Hofmann based his ruling on the document which says the cove  is to be used as a coastal park and a children’s pool. The property is a called, “Children’s Pool Beach.”

Introduced at the request of San Diego’s City Council, Kehoe’s bill would amend the tidelands grant to read that the cove is a “marine mammal park for the enjoyment and educational benefit of children.”

That would allow the city to decide the seals’ fate rather than the courts.

The bill has been approved by the Senate and is pending in the Assembly.



  1. Damn, they’re so cute. I say let em be

    Comment by Wally Webgas — 5.28.2009 @ 4:04 pm

  2. This kids versus seals tempest is missing the bigger public policy issue. Should the state keep its word? The state accepted this gift in trust for a children’s beach.

    If the state can break the trust of a restricted gift then no one will ever make a gift to the state of California again because there will be no confidence that the state will keep its word.

    Unlike a budget which last 12 months (at best) or a law which last until amended, a trust is forever. If the state did not intend to honor the trust it should have never accepted the gift with those restrictions.

    I guess forever around here is about 80 years. Maybe I should be impressed that the state’s honor lasted even that long.

    Comment by Bill Leonard — 5.28.2009 @ 5:37 pm

  3. Bill,

    You don’t have your facts straight. The state owns the land. A resident asked and obtained state permission to build a seawall so that the beach could be used for swimming. There was never any commitment or promise by the state to this person.

    The State of California owns the land and conveyed it to the City of San Diego to hold in trust. It is that trust that required its use for swimming and other recreational purposes. As property owner, the state has the right to change the uses.

    Senator Kehoe’s legislation is the right thing to do.

    Jan Goldsmith

    Comment by Jan Goldsmith — 5.28.2009 @ 6:12 pm

  4. It does not matter who decides what with regards to the seals at the Children’s Pool, when my friends and I are done there will be no seals left. We have divers and watercraft and we are armed with underwater audio harassment devices and seal bombs. We will get the seals to leave the underwater area around the Children’s Pool. In addition, we have all kinds of large dogs we will bring to the Children’s Pool beach in the morning before 9 AM and in the evening after 6 PM. When we are done, there will be no seals left in the area.

    Comment by water nut 2 — 5.30.2009 @ 11:03 am

  5. What does Goldsmith know? This is the guy that tried to legalize ferrets!

    Comment by Gus Turdlock — 6.01.2009 @ 3:39 pm

  6. All you need to do is GO FISHING! With a valid California fishing license and you are actively fishing you can deter seals from the beach or area your are fishing. If anyone tries to stop you use this:

    Hunter/Fishing Harassment Law
    California Fish and Game Code


    Section 2009. (a) A person shall not willfully interfere with the participation of any individual in the lawful activity of shooting, hunting, fishing, falconry, or trapping at the location where that activity is taking place.

    (b) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).

    (c) If any person is convicted of a violation of this section and the offense occurred within two years of another separate violation of this section which resulted in a conviction, the violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    (d) This section does not apply to the actions of any peace officer or personnel of the department in the performance of their official duties. This section does not obstruct the rights and normal activities of landowners or tenants, including, but not limited to, farming, ranching, and limiting unlawful trespass.

    (e) In order to be liable for a violation of this section, the person is required to have had the specific intent to interfere with the participation of an individual who was engaged in shooting, hunting, fishing, falconry, or trapping.

    (f) For purposes of this section, “interfere with” means any action which physically impedes, hinders, or obstructs the lawful pursuit of any of the above-mentioned activities, including, but not limited to, actions taken for the purpose of frightening away animals from the location where the lawful activity is taking place.


    Q. Who may deter sea lions or seals?
    A. In summary, certain private citizens, marina owners, government officials, and commercial and recreational fisherman may deter sea lions and seals under certain conditions, as described below:
    • Private Citizens – Only the owner of the private property (e.g., a dock or vessel) may deter Pacific harbor seals and California seal lions to prevent damage to their private property.
    • Marina Owner – Only the marina owner, or an employee of the owner, or an agent of the owner may deter Pacific harbor seals and California seal lions to prevent damage to the marina.
    • Government Officials – City, county, state or federal officials or their employees may deter listed and non-ESA-listed sea lions and seals determined to be “nuisance” animals to prevent damage to private or public property, or to protect the public from potential threats.
    • Commercial and Recreational Fishermen –
    Fishermen can deter Pacific harbor seals and California seal lions from damaging gear or depredating catch, only if they are actively fishing.

    Any Lifeguard or Law Enforcement Officer can enforce the Code.

    Mr. Goldsmith
    “There was never any commitment or promise by the state to this person.” That is absolutely wrong! The commitment was implied and made when the Children’s Pool was completed. If the State wanted it to be a marine mammal park it should of said it at the time Ms. Scripps asked permission to build the wall! Not after the fact!
    As a taxpayer of the County of San Diego, your are fired!

    Comment by LJdiver — 6.08.2009 @ 4:15 pm

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