Judge gives city 72 hours to rid seals from beach

By Calvin Palmer

A Superior Court judge in San Diego today gave the city 72 hours to begin getting rid of harbor seals that have invaded an artificial cove at La Jolla or face heavy fines.

City officials say they plan this week to scare off the seals from Children’s Pool by broadcasting barking dog sounds. The plan could cost the city $700,000.

Attorneys for seal supporters are expected to seek an injunction to prevent such action.

Judge Yuri Hoffman said that state law requires the beach be kept clean for children under a 1931 deed to the property.

Attorneys for the city asked Hoffman to delay his ruling, noting that the Legislature in Sacramento has voted to allow the city to decide whether the seals should stay or go.

But Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet to sign the legislation, and Hoffman, increasingly impatient with the city, said he was not willing to wait until the governor makes his decision.

If the bill is signed in Sacramento, San Diego City Council plans to declare the beach a marine sanctuary and allow the seals to remain.

The number of seals using the cove began growing in the 1990s for unknown reasons. Bacteria from their waste prompted the city to close the Children’s Pool in 1997.

[Based on reports by the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times.]

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