Timeline of Major Events Affecting the La Jolla Seals

 

Contents

1887

First survey map of La Jolla by the City Engineer refers to both “Seal Rock” and “Seal Rock Point.”

 

1925

Note that Casa Beach was a beach before any construction began.

 

1931

March 4, 1931
The construction of the Sea Wall (breakwater) at Casa Beach is completed.

March 27, 1931
Hiram Savage, the engineer in charge of the Sea Wall’s construction, orders workers to close the 4 sluice gates that had been built in to the sea wall.

 

1931 ‐ 1972
Seals all but vanish from the La Jolla area due to extensive hunting, combined with all the people now bathing and swimming at Casa Beach / Children’s Pool.

 

1972

The Marine Mammal Protection Act is passed by Congress and signed in to law by President Richard Nixon. It prohibits both killing and harassing all marine mammals, including seals, dolphins, whales, sea lions, porpoises, sea otters, and walruses.

 

1993

The first seals are observed hauling out on the sand at Children’s Pool. But most of the seals in the La Jolla area still haul out on the offshore Seal Rock.

February 1, 1993
Due to numerous reports of harassment by swimmers and divers of the seals who haul out on Seal Rock, the City Council votes 8‐0 to create the “Seal Rock Ecological Reserve” for a 5‐year trial period. The Marine Protected Area includes the area outlined in the above picture, which was officially closed to divers, swimmers, boaters, and any other water‐related activities.

 

 

1994

July 25, 1994
In order to comply with requirements of the California Coastal Commission, the City Council votes 8‐1 to change the name of the Seal Rock Ecological Reserve to the “Seal Rock Marine Mammal Reserve”. They also change the conditions of the Reserve to allow fishermen access to the area at all times as required by the California Department of Fish and Game.

 

1994 ‐ 1997
Ironically, once the Seal Rock Reserve becomes official, fewer and fewer seals haul out on Seal Rock, and more and more seals begin to haul out on the sand at Children’s Pool / Casa Beach.

 

1997

September 4, 1997
County Environmental Health closes Children’s Pool to swimmers / divers / bathers because the fecal coliform bacteria counts continuously and significantly exceed State water quality standards. This is the sign posted by the county:

 

1998

May 6, 1998
Harry Mathis, District 1 Councilmember, deems the current Children’s Pool situation totally unacceptable. Thus, at Mathis’ urging, the City Council’s Natural Resources & Culture Committee votes 4‐1 to approve directing the City Manager to apply for a Coastal Development Permit to dredge the beach, and to solicit bids for the dredging in order to restore the beach to its 1941 configuration. The goal is to clean up the water, and have less sand available for the seals to haul out on. “The ultimate objective of this action is to restore the shared use of Children’s Pool by people and harbor seals.”

 

1999

March 29, 1999
Harry Mathis’ dredging proposal is heard by the full City Council. The City Council votes 6 ‐3 “not to dredge, not to shoo the seals, instead to put up a barrier to protect the humans from the seals and the seals from the humans.”

 

Below is a picture of the guideline rope that remained up from April 1999 to September 2004:


Below is the City sign that was posted from April 1999 until September 2004:


November 1, 1999
The City Council votes 6‐3 to renew the Seal Rock Marine Mammal Reserve for another 5‐year period in what Councilmember Harry Mathis describes as, “The most pointless item this council has ever voted on.”

 

2000

February 2, 2000
The National Marine Fisheries Service officially recognizes Casa Beach as a harbor seal natural haulout and rookery.

 

May 17, 2000
Edythe Scripps, niece of Ellen Browning Scripps, in a rare interview, states that, “She [Ellen Browning Scripps] would have loved them [the seals at Casa Beach / Children’s Pool]. She was a great animal lover and she would have been just delighted, I know….”

 

2002

October 1, 2002
The NMFS Assistant Regional Administrator of the (now defunct since c. 2014) Southwest Region weighs in on the issues at Casa Beach.

 

2003

February 24, 2003
Scott Peters publicly announces his intention to revive former City Councilmember Harry Mathis’ 1998 dredging plan, stating, “Unfortunately, over the past decade, Mrs. [sic] Scripps’ generous gift has been snatched away from the children of La Jolla and replaced by an invasion of seals whose excrement has fouled the water….but I will do whatever I have to do to let the people use the beach again. There is plenty of ocean space for the seals. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.”

 

 

March 21, 2003
County Environmental Health Department informs the City that the status of the Children’s Pool has now changed from “closed” to “advisory”, since the water contamination is not due to a sewage spill. The public is now advised that they may enter the water at their own risk. This status change at Children’s Pool is solely based on changes to AB 411, not because of any improvement in the water quality. Thus, the beach is re‐opened for swimming, diving, and bathing.

 

April 1, 2003
Scott Peters leads the City Council to a 6‐3 vote to let the Seal Rock Reserve lapse, while also ordering the City Manager to produce a report containing ideas about “how to reduce the pollution levels at the Children’s Pool in order to return the Children’s Pool to recreational use for children, including accessible uses, thus restoring this area to the joint use of seals, divers, fishermen, children, and their families.”

 

2004

March 12, 2004
Valerie O’Sullivan sues the City of San Diego for “breach of trust and fiduciary duties”, asking the Court to order the City to abide by the terms of the 1931 Trust that deeded the Children’s Pool to the City of San Diego, “to be used as a bathing pool for children….” Her lawsuit demands that the City remove the seals and clean the water in order to restore Children’s Pool to its 1941 condition so that it can be used as a public swimming site.

 

June 23, 2004
Scott Peters writes an editorial published in the San Diego Union‐Tribune espousing his belief that the City should dredge Children’s Pool Beach for “joint use” between harbor seals and humans.

 

September 15, 2004
At Scott Peters’ behest, the San Diego City Council votes 5‐3 to move forward with Harry Mathis’ 1998 plan to dredge the beach in order to “reduce pollution levels in the sand and to return the Children’s Pool to recreational use for children, including accessible uses, thus restoring this area to the joint use of seals, divers, fishermen, children, and their families.” The vote also resolves to “open the Pool for year‐round use…..direct that the rope barriers and sign posts be immediately removed to restore public access to the area and that new signs be placed on the lifeguard tower indicating that public access is permitted.”

 

December 15, 2004
This is the first pupping season since the 1990’s without a rope barrier at Casa Beach to separate people and seals. There are numerous reports of seal harassment, as well as frequent incidents of human‐to‐human conflict.

.

2005

February 13, 2005
The Humane Society of the United States announces its intention to sue the City of San Diego and the National Marine Fisheries Service unless officials put a rope barrier back up at Casa Beach to protect La Jolla’s famous harbor seal colony.

 

August 27, 2005
Superior Court Judge William C. Pate rules in favor of Valerie O’Sullivan in the Valerie O’Sullivan v. City of San Diego lawsuit, ordering the excavation of the Children’s Pool and a “return to its pre‐seal condition in six months.”

 

September 27, 2005
The San Diego City Council votes 5‐1 in closed session to file a Notice of Appeal in the Valerie O’Sullivan v. City of San Diego case, with Scott Peters casting the lone dissenting vote.

 

2006

February 21, 2006
The San Diego City Council votes 7‐1 in favor of directing the City Attorney to appeal the ruling in the Valerie O’Sullivan v. City of San Diego case, with Scott Peters again casting the lone dissenting vote.

 

March 21, 2006
Don Masters, Special Agent in Charge of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), Southwest Region, writes a letter to San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders in which he expresses the OLE’s concern with the City’s “Shared Use” policy at Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla. Masters states that the shared use policy has resulted in dozens of complaints of seal abuse to his office and to the NOAA Law Enforcement Hotline. He recommends and supports immediate closure of the beach through April, or immediately reinstating the advisory guideline rope. He notes his department does not have the resources to patrol the beach.

 

April 18, 2006
The San Diego City Council, in response to the March 21, 2006 letter from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, approves a motion to permanently reinstate the guideline rope at Casa Beach from January 1 to May 1 annually, in perpetuity. The vote is 7‐1 with Scott Peters casting the only dissenting vote. The rope is installed the next day, and remains up through May 1.

 

May 1, 2006
NOAA releases a list of potential deterrence methods for Pacific Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions. The list of approved deterrence methods includes the use of sling shots; paint ball guns; rubber bullets; pyrotechnics (including underwater firecrackers); cattle prods; non‐toxic chemical irritants such as pepper spray and mace; and high pressure water hoses.

 

December 5, 2006
The San Diego City Council votes 6‐1 to extend the period of placement of the guideline rope at the Children’s Pool to begin on December 15 rather than January 1, and to end on May 15 instead of May 1 each year, “to protect unborn pups in December and newborn pups in May.” Resolution R‐302160 becomes official on January 8, 2007.

 

2007

April 30, 2007
The San Diego Police Department, Northern Division, posts a statement about the Children’s Pool stating their goals of minimizing the potential for confrontational behavior by maintaining peace and order during human‐human and human‐animal contact on and around the beach.

 

May 11, 2007
A Zogby poll reveals that 80% of San Diegans are in favor of using the guideline rope to protect the La Jolla seals.

 

September 10, 2007
The California State Appeals Court affirms Judge Pate’s August 27, 2005 ruling, in which the City was ordered to dredge the Children’s Pool and disperse the seals. The City immediately appeals the ruling to the California Supreme Court.

 

November 30, 2007
Don Masters, Special Agent in Charge of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), Southwest Region, writes a letter to the San Diego City Attorney in which he expresses his department’s concern about numerous complaints received by his office via the OLE Hotline. He recommends and supports the City erecting the guideline rope during the harbor seal pupping season, or closing the beach entirely during the pupping season.

 

November 30, 2007
The California Supreme Court refuses to reconsider the lower court’s verdict in the Valerie O’Sullivan v. City of San Diego case, thus leaving in place the unanimous decision by the State Court of Appeals to uphold the August 27, 2005 ruling which requires the City to dredge Children’s Pool Beach in order to disperse the seal colony and make the water sanitary for humans.

 

December 15, 2007
The City of San Diego finds itself unable to erect the pupping season guideline rope despite two 2006 City Council Resolutions. The City is told that it must abide by Judge Pate’s 2005 ruling which prohibits the City from putting up a rope barrier to keep the public away from the harbor seals.

 

 

 

2008

March 10, 2008
The Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overrules the State Appeals Court by issuing an emergency order directing the City to immediately re‐establish the pupping season guideline rope that prevents interaction between humans and harbor seals and their pups at Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla. The rope is re‐erected the next day, and remains up through May 30, 2008.

 

June 12, 2008
The San Diego Planning Commission retroactively approves the City’s self‐issued emergency Site Development Permit which had allowed the guideline rope to remain up through May 30, 2008.

 

September 1, 2008
Scott Peters and Doyle Hanan, Ph.D., join forces to publish James H. Lecky’s version of the “Children’s Pool Frequently Asked Questions” on the City of San Diego’s web site.

 

October 24, 2008
The City of San Diego files a required status report with the Superior Court regarding the status of their effort to become compliant with the Court’s 2005 ruling ordering the City to dredge the Children’s Pool.

 

December 15, 2008
The City is still under conflicting orders regarding whether or not it is permitted to install the pupping season guideline rope at the Children’s Pool. Superior Court Judge Yuri Hoffman has notified the City that it will be held in contempt of court if it erects the rope.

 

December 18, 2008
Federal Judge William Q. Hayes orders the immediate erection of the guideline rope at Casa Beach, ruling that the rope must remain up through May 20, 2009.

 

2009

January 27, 2009
The San Diego City Council votes 6‐1 in Closed Session (Councilmember Emerald not present; Councilmember Lightner casting the lone dissenting vote) to advance the proposal to amend the 1931 Tidelands Trust to open session before expiration of the Legislature’s deadline for submission of proposed legislation.

 

February 17, 2009
The San Diego City Council votes 7‐1 (Councilmember Lightner cast the only dissenting vote) to seek state legislation to try to block the court‐ordered removal of the La Jolla seal colony. “BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO THAT THE COUNCIL SUPPORTS AMENDMENT OF THE 1931 TIDELANDS TRUST BY THE CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE TO AFFORD THE CITY DISCRETION TO PERMIT MARINE MAMMALS TO INHABIT THE CHILDREN’S POOL AND DISCRETION TO PRESERVE THE MARINE MAMMALS’ HABITAT AT THE CHILDREN’S POOL WHILE MAINTAINING DISCRETION TO ALLOW USES ALREADY SET FORTH IN THE 1931 TRUST AND ANY JOINT USE THEREOF.”

 

May 27, 2009
Judge Yuri Hoffman says the City is in contempt of the 2005 ruling ordering that the La Jolla Seals be dispersed and the sand dredged, and gives the City 2 weeks to devise a plan to become compliant with the 2005 ruling.

 

June 8, 2009
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith issues a memorandum to the Mayor and the City Council regarding the “Misconceptions about the Children’s Pool/Seals Debate”. It states in part that: “Ellen Browning Scripps never owned this beach, did not grant a trust to anyone and there was no agreement with her. The beach is owned by the State of California and it is the State that transferred the beach to the City in trust. Ms. Scripps asked and received permission of the State to build the wall. She was thanked, as she and her family should be today, for this and other gifts they have given to our community. But, she did not ask for an agreement and there was none. The only property rights involved with this beach belong to the State of California. Public entities that own land have property rights. As opined by the Attorney General, if the State wants to change the terms of this trust, it can do so as the property owner. With limited exceptions, federal law prohibits removal of the seals. Whether those exceptions apply is subject to litigation. If they do apply, federal law dictates the method of removal – and it is quite involved. Hence, the $700,000 cost. The federal government has instructed us in writing that allowing dogs to harass the seals is a federal crime and they will enforce the law. Removal of the seals does not end the matter. The state court order would also require that the beach sand be dredged, contaminants removed and the beach be reconfigured to its 1941 geography. The estimate on this is an additional $1 million for the dredging plus the Environmental Impact Report and a lot of years seeking approval from the Coastal Commission and other agencies and defending environmental lawsuits. In February, I recommended that the City Council sponsor legislation to change the terms of the Trust to give the City discretion on use of the beach. In our opinion, that renders the state lawsuit moot and the issue can be decided by the City Council and Mayor, the way public policy issues are supposed to be decided. Senator Christine Kehoe has stepped up to the plate and introduced this legislation.”

 

June 22, 2009
An independent Survey by the national polling firm Competitive Edge Research finds that 63.2% of San Diegans want the La Jolla Seals to stay at the Children’s Pool. “The poll showed that 63.2 percent of respondents hope the marine mammals will be allowed to remain, compared with approximately 24.5 percent who want them gone. The remaining 12.2 percent of the population is either neutral or unsure.”

 

July 20, 2009
California Senate Bill No. 428 [SB428] – having passed the State Senate on April 16, 2009 and having passed the State Assembly on July 9, 2009 – is signed by Governor Schwartzenegger. The Bill adds the phrase “marine mammal park for the enjoyment and educational benefit of children” to the 1931 Tidelands Trust so that it now reads, “That said lands shall be devoted exclusively to public park, marine mammal park for the enjoyment and educational benefit of children, bathing pool for children, parkway, highway, playground and recreational purposes, and to such other uses as may be incident to, or convenient for the full enjoyment of such purposes.” It will become law on January 1, 2010.

 

September 22, 2009
As part of the City’s lengthy ongoing effort to comply with the 2005 order to dredge Casa Beach and disperse the seals, City Staff propose a Site Development Permit (SDP), Coastal Development Permit (CDP), and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the removal of approximately 3,000 cubic yards of sand from the Children’s Pool, to allow water to circulate, thereby reaching decontamination levels required for safe human use of the beach. However, the City Council votes 7 to 1 againist certifying the EIR, with Councilmember Lightner casting the lone dissenting vote.

 

November 13, 2009
Superior Court Judge Timothy B. Taylor terminates the injunction to disperse the seals, ruling that, with the passage of SB428, the seals shall remain at Children’s Pool. “Should the court ignore an Act of the California Legislature, signed into law by the Governor? Given the court’s sworn duty to uphold the law, merely to pose the question is to provide the answer: emphatically ‘no.’ Should the Court consider that same act to be a material change in the facts, warranting termination of a mandatory injunction imposed before the Act passed the Legislature and was signed by the Governor? In the circumstances of this long‐running case, the Court finds that the answer is ‘yes’.”

 

December 2, 2009
The City Hearing Officer approves Site Development Permit (SDP) 701765 and Coastal Development Permit (CDP) 701673 for annual placement of the guideline rope at Children’s Pool Beach during harbor seal pupping season, December 15 to May 15. The Hearing Officer’s decision to grant the SDP is immediately appealed to the full San Diego Planning Commission by Mr. John Leek, and the decision approving the CDP is immediately appealed to the California Coastal Commission.

 

December 16, 2009
The City’s Parks and Recreation Department erects the pupping season guideline rope at the Children’s Pool as a temporary safety measure pending the appeals of the City Hearing Officer’s December 2, 2009 decision.

 

2010

January 21, 2010
The San Diego Planning Commission hears an appeal of the City Hearing Officer’s December 2, 2009 decision to approve the Site Development Permit for the installation of the guideline rope at Casa Beach during the harbor seal pupping season (December 15 through May 15 annually). The Planning Commission votes 4‐3 to deny the appeal and uphold the Hearing Officer’s decision.

 

March 10, 2010
The California Coastal Commission hears an appeal of the City Hearing Officer’s December 2, 2009 decision to approve the Coastal Development Permit for the installation of the guideline rope at Casa Beach during the harbor seal pupping season (December 15 through May 15 annually). The Coastal Commission votes unanimously to deny the appeal and approve the issuance of the Coastal Development Permit.

 

March 26, 2010
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith provides the City Council with legal analysis of various proposed management options for Children’s Pool Beach

 

May 14, 2010
Rodney McInnis, the National Marine Fisheries Service Assistant Regional Administrator for the (now defunct c. 2014) Southwest Region, writes a letter to Donna Frye of the San Diego City Council which states that NMFS approves of all matters soon to be considered by the full City Council in regard to Children’s Pool Beach. Specifically, the letters affirms that NMFS approves of the City’s plan to close the beach during the harbor seal pupping season; NMFS approves the year‐round installation of the guideline rope; and NMFS approves banning dogs from the beach at all times.

 

May 17, 2010
The San Diego City Council holds a special meeting to vote on a motion by Donna Frye which would 1) Determine that a coastal emergency exists which requires immediate year‐round placement of the guideline rope; 2) Prohibit any person from being on the beach during pupping season (December 15 – May 15 annually); 3) Ban dogs from the beach; and 4) Draft appropriate signage based on these council actions. The motion passes 6‐2, with the dissenting votes cast by Councilmembers Lightner and Young.

 

September 15, 2010
The City Hearing Officer approves the City Council’s resolution to erect a permanent year‐round guideline rope to protect the harbor seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla. This decision is immediately appealed to the full San Diego Planning Commission.

 

December 9, 2010
The San Diego Planning Commission hears an appeal of the City Hearing Officer’s September 15, 2010 decision to approve the Site Development Permit for the installation of a permanent year‐round guideline rope to protect the harbor seals at the Children’s Pool. The Planning Commission votes unanimously in favor of the appeal – thus reversing the City Hearing Officer’s decision – rejecting the year‐round rope on the grounds that it would be an encroachment on public access to the beach.

 

2011

July 15, 2011
Superior Court Judge Lisa Foster orders the San Diego Planning Commission to reconsider its December 9, 2010 ruling that the year-round rope at Children’s Pool Beach would be an encroachment on public beach access that is incompatible with the Local Coastal Plan. Specifically, the Judge asks the Planning Commission to explain how it’s possible that a pupping season rope (approved by the Planning Commission on January 22, 2010) is not an encroachment to beach access, yet a year‐round rope (denied by the Planning Commission on December 9, 2010) is an encroachment.

 

2012

June 28, 2012
Rodney McInnis, the National Marine Fisheries Service Assistant Regional Administrator for the (now defunct c. 2014) Southwest Region, writes a letter to the California Coastal Commission in which he conveys that NMFS approves of the proposed installation of a year‐round guideline rope at Casa Beach, stating, “NMFS supports establishing the guideline rope year‐round, as it would allow at least some measure of public awareness and protection to the harbor seals hauled out on the sand.”

 

July 11, 2012
The California Coastal Commission votes unanimously to approve the installation of the year‐round guideline rope at Casa Beach for a three‐year term.

 

September 27, 2012
Despite the California Coastal Commission’s unanimous July 11, 2012 approval of a Coastal Development Permit to install a year‐round rope separating humans and seals at Casa Beach in La Jolla, San Diego’s Planning Commission unanimously rejects the year-round rope for a second time.

 

October 11, 2012
The City of San Diego installs 2 new signs at four different locations above Casa Beach.

 

November 29, 2012
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith publishes an editorial in the San Diego Union‐Tribune with the heading, “TIME TO END BATTLES OVER SEALS, CHILDREN’S POOL”

 

December 13, 2012
Coastal Analyst Kanani Brown of the California Coastal Commission sends a letter to the City of San Diego’s Director of Parks and Recreation, Stacey LoMedico, in which she clarifies the CCC’s position on the City’s proposed seasonal closure of Children’s Pool / Casa Beach during the harbor seal pupping season from December 15 to May 15 annually.

 

December 15, 2012
The City of San Diego installs brand new signage on the newly‐erected guideline rope.

 

December 27, 2012
San Diego’s new Mayor Bob Filner delivers on a promise he made on December 15, 2012 by issuing an Executive Order to the City’s Parks and Recreation Department which instructs them to immediately extend the length of the guideline rope separating humans and seals at Casa Beach from 130 feet to 152 feet.

 

2013

January 31, 2013
A night‐vision capable camera, aimed at the harbor seal rookery at Casa Beach in La Jolla, is installed atop the lifeguard tower to show the world the beach where the seals haul out and give birth.

 

February 15, 2013
In an incident that gets worldwide attention, the recently‐installed “Seal Cam” catches two women harassing the seals late at night at Casa Beach.

 

 

February 18, 2013
NOAA replaces their decades‐old signs at Casa Beach with four brand new, updated signs.

 

February 20, 2013
Court papers filed by the City of San Diego say that its Planning Commission erred in rejecting the permit for a year‐round rope to protect the harbor seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla. According to Deputy City Attorney George Schaefer, “The city concedes its Planning Commission erred when it denied the Site Development Permit for an annual rope barrier.”

 

March 19, 2013
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner orders Casa Beach to be closed from sunset to sunrise through May 15, 2013 after seeing the February 14, 2013 video of seals being sat on, kicked, and punched.

 

April 12, 2013
Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman rules that the guideline rope meant to keep people away from the seals at Casa Beach should remain year‐round, not just during the December‐to‐May pupping season. The ruling comes after the City recently admitted that the San Diego Planning Commission was wrong to reject the permit for the year‐round rope as it did in December of 2010 and again in September of 2012. “The city concedes its Planning Commission erred when it denied the Site Development Permit for the [year‐round] guideline rope,” Deputy City Attorney George Schaefer wrote in a paper filed with the Court.

 

April 19, 2013
Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman denies a request to shorten the guideline rope meant to protect the La Jolla seals from being harassed by the public. A group called “Friends of the Children’s Pool” had asked that the rope, now stretching 152 feet, be shortened to 130 feet, which they claimed was necessary in order to increase access to the water for swimmers and divers. But Judge Pressman, who recently ruled that the rope should remain year‐round, not just during pupping season, turned down the request. He also turned down a request by the same group to overturn an order by Mayor Bob Filner that the beach be closed to the public at night through May 15th, the end of the 2013 pupping season

 

September 12, 2013
The San Diego Planning Commission votes 4‐2 in favor of the City’s plan to close Casa Beach annually during the pupping season months (December 15 to May 15).

 

December 12, 2013
Due to a change in the language of the proposed Ordinance, the San Diego Planning Commission again holds a hearing on the issue of whether to approve or deny the City’s plan to close Casa Beach during the harbor seal pupping season from December 15 through May 15 annually. This time, the Planning Commission votes 4‐3 in favor of the project.

 

December 19, 2013
The San Diego Planning Commission holds a hearing about whether to allow a re‐hearing of the Seasonal Beach Closure issue so that Commissioner Smiley can reconsider his December 12, 2013 vote in favor of the project.  Commissioner Smiley has stated that he misunderstood the language of the resolution and because of this, he accidentally voted the wrong way. The Planning Commission decides to re‐do the hearing on January 16, 2014.

 

2014

January 2, 2014
Chris E. Yates, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources of the West Coast Region of the National Marine Fisheries Service, writes a letter to Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and the San Diego City Council in which he conveys that NMFS has reversed the position it took in letters dated June 28, 2012 and May 14, 2010.  Specifically, Mr. Yates states that NMFS no longer supports the City’s plan to close Casa Beach to the public during the harbor seal pupping season (from December 15 through May 15 annually): “Therefore, we want to clarify that we do not believe that complete closure of Children’s Pool Beach is necessary to protect the harbor seals from violations of the MMPA.”

 

January 14, 2014
The City of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation Department is contacted by the Long Beach office of the National Marine Fisheries Service, West Coast Region, and instructed to immediately take down the 4 signs at the Children’s Pool bearing the NOAA logo.  These are the 4 brand new signs which had been posted at Casa Beach just 11 months previously, at the request of the same office now demanding their removal!  Dan Danieri, with the City’s Parks and Rec Department, states that he has been told by NMFS that replacement signs will be provided “soon”.

 

January 16, 2014
In a re‐hearing of the December 12, 2013 re‐hearing of the original September 12, 2013 hearing in which the San Diego Planning Commission is to recommend to the City Council whether to approve or deny the City’s plan to close Children’s Pool / Casa Beach during the harbor seal pupping season from December 15 to May 15 annually, the San Diego Planning Commission again votes 4‐3 in favor of the seasonal closure.

 

February 24, 2014
The San Diego City Council votes 6 ‐3 in favor of the seasonal closure of Casa Beach during the harbor seal pupping season, from December 15 through May 15 annually.

 

August 14, 2014
The California Coastal Commission unanimously approves the City’s plan to close Casa Beach during the harbor seal pupping season, from December 15 through May 15 annually. The approval is for a 5‐year period, to be revisited in 2019.

 

October 10, 2014
The anti‐seal group “Friends of the Children’s Pool” files a lawsuit challenging the City of San Diego’s decision to close Casa Beach to people during the harbor seal pupping season (December 15 to May 15 annually).

 

December 15, 2014
Casa Beach is closed for the next 5 months as the first annual seasonal closure of the beach (December 15 through May 15) officially begins.

 

2015

June 10, 2015
The California Coastal Commission votes unanimously to approve a four‐year permit extension to keep the City of San Diego’s viewing guideline rope up at Casa Beach during the seven non‐pupping-season months (May 16 through December 14 annually) through 2019.

 

2016

May 3, 2016
Orange County Superior Court Judge Frederick Horn rules against the City in Friends of the Children’s Pool v. City of San Diego, concluding that the City’s seasonal closure of Casa Beach (from December 15 through May 15 annually) is preempted by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and therefore is illegal.

 

June 14, 2016
The San Diego City Council votes 7‐1 (with Councilmember Lightner casting the lone dissenting vote) in closed session to appeal Orange County Judge Frederick Horn’s May 3, 2016 ruling which concluded that the seasonal closure of Casa Beach (from December 15 to May 15 annually) is preempted by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and thus cannot be enforced.

 

June 27, 2016
The San Diego City Attorney files an appeal of Orange County Judge Frederick Horn’s May 3, 2016 decision against the City in Friends of the Children’s Pool v. City of San Diego.

 

2017

January 3, 2017
After analyzing six years of data comprised of all calls for police service at Casa Beach, the Seal Conservancy has shown that there is an 82% reduction in calls for police service at Casa Beach when the beach is closed during pupping season.  There were 82% less calls for police service at Casa Beach during the 2015 and 2016 pupping seasons (when the beach was closed for pupping season) compared to the same time period (December 15 through May 15) during the years 2011 – 2014, when the beach remained open.

 

January 26, 2017
3 years, 1 week, and 5 days after commanding the City of San Diego to immediately remove all 4 of the NOAA-logo’d signs aimed at protecting the local harbor seals from incidents of human harassment, NMFS sends the City a replacement sign — an 80’s-era relic! NMFS instructs the City’s Parks and Rec Department to post the “new” sign at Casa Beach.

 

 

February 2, 2017
A three-judge appellate panel votes unanimously to grant the City of San Diego’s motion to allow Casa Beach to remain closed during pupping season while the City’s appeal of last May’s ruling in Friends of the Children’s Pool v. City of San Diego (which struck down the seasonal closure) is being considered. The Court finds “it to be in the public interest to maintain the status quo pending resolution of this appeal.”

 

Summaries