Sea Lion Poop Gets San Diego Sued
First neighbor-irking demolition projects and now the “foul, noxious, and sickening” stench of sea lion poop wafting in from the cove …
The blows truly seem to keep on coming for residents living in the sleepy seaside enclave of La Jolla, Calif. where plutocrat/prolific granddad Mitt Romney has already disrupted the peace by razing his modestly proportioned beach house with plans to erect a hulking mansion, complete with the largest basement known to mankind, in its place. On top of that, beleaguered La Jolla residents are struggling with an odor so pungent, so persistent that even celebrated boxing champ Floyd Mayweather has hightailed it out of there and fled for less rank grounds.
A collective of concerned La Jolla business owners calling itself Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement recently sued the city of San Diego in hopes that authorities will take action and do something about the source of the offending odor: a cluster of rocks in La Jolla Cove that are used by sea lions, cormorants, and other forms of marine life as a communal latrine.
Several years ago, city officials approved the construction of a white wooden fence geared to prevent people from getting too close to the sea lions, which, if you think about it, makes total sense as the blubbery beasts are federally protected from being harassed. But as the lawsuit alleges, because the fence prohibits people from accessing the rocks where they could potentially harm the animals or themselves, the birds and sea lions see absolutely no reason to move further out into the cove to take care of business. And without human interruption, the rocks have become the site of a big old poop party.
The lawsuit also notes that the omnipresent stench is particularly horrific due to the sea lions’ anchovy-rich diet — it “makes the smell much worse than it might otherwise be.”
Due to the olfactory terror that’s gripped the area, the owners of a handful of upscale restaurants and hotels situated above La Jolla Cove have complained of lost business. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, La Valencia Hotel lost $5,000 in one day’s rooms revenue when Mayweather and his entourage checked into — and quickly checked out of 15 minutes later — two villas and six guest rooms because of the smell.
The city of San Diego has responded to similar odor complaints in the past including funding a $50,000 clean-up operation in early 2013 to rid the cliffs above La Jolla Cove of decades of accumulated bird poop. But as those living and working near the cove will probably tell you, the period of relief following the cleaning was short-lived and in recent months the displeasing aroma has returned worse than ever due in part to a surge in the sea lion population.
It’s believed that taking down the fence and permitting people — people donning gas masks, no doubt — to access the bluffs again will once again bring relief, this time more long-lasting.
Just days prior to the lawsuit being filed, city officials actually did decide to install a gate in the offending fence that would allow people to access the bluffs and, in turn, keep defecating animals at more of a remove. Explains Alex Roth, spokesman for Acting Mayor Todd Gloria: “You can’t put yourself in danger or actively harass the wildlife, but you can go down to the cliffs. We hope this will alleviate the problem.”
Bryan Pease, a pro bono attorney representing Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement, thinks that the addition of the gate, which, again, was apparently not in response to the aforementioned lawsuit filed by his client, is a fine start in rectifying the “potential health hazard and serious public nuisance” — but not enough to do the trick. “I don’t think this one small gate will be enough. There is another long, flat rock area that is still inaccessible and contributing to the odor,” he explains to the L.A. Times.
Any readers have trouble eating, sleeping, or, well, existing around La Jolla Cove due to fragrant whiffs of sea lion poop?
article by Matt Hickman