San Diego City Council voted unanimously on Monday afternoon to close Point La Jolla year-round. The closure is intended to protect both wildlife and the hundreds of people who visit the sea-lion pupping area.
Point La Jolla is one of the most iconic spots in San Diego, not just because of the beautiful view but also the sea lions.
Even during the vote, the area had already been closed off due to the pupping season.
At the beginning of the year, the City Council put in a permit-change request to expand the closure of Boomer Beach and Point La Jolla from May 1 to Oct. 31, according to staffers at Councilmember Joe LaCava’s office.
The California Coastal Commission voted earlier this month to recommend closing the area all year. One of the commission’s responsibilities is to make public beaches and the California coastline accessible to all.
This extension means visitors will continue to have limited access to the area between the Children’s Pool and La Jolla Cove. Additional signage will be posted, and park rangers will monitor the site. The steps to Boomer Beach will be permanently closed.
City Council will hear the action again in at least two weeks. Then it will go into effect at least 30 days after Mayor Todd Gloria signs it, according to a spokesperson for Councilmember LaCava.
The year-round ordinance will likely take effect at the beginning of November.
Monday’s action by city council gives the city the ability to enforce the coastal permit approved by the Coastal Commission earlier on Sept. 7, the spokesperson said.
Why do some want to close Point La Jolla year-round?
When the area was closed during last year’s pupping season, there were no reports of negative interactions between people and wildlife, according to the Coastal Commission.
But once it reopened, there was an uptick in incidents, some of which went viral in the last few months.
In June, a snorkeler was recorded petting a sleeping baby sea lion despite lifeguard orders.
A few months before that, in March, a girl threw something at a sunbathing sea lion.
Harassing sea lions is a federal offense, NBC 7’s Ramon Galindo reports.
Locals respond to the possible permanent closure of Point La Jolla
Cristina Schaffer has lived in La Jolla for 20 years. She swims out in the cove every Sunday with her group of friends.
After seeing one of the viral videos, she hopes that a year-round closure means no more incidents at Point La Jolla.
“I don’t think the state has enough money to have a full-time ranger here, explaining how to respect the animals to people who really think they can pet every little baby sea lion that they see,” she said. “I think it’s just [the city’s] way of trying to find a balance.”
Sergiy Trydid moved to San Diego near La Jolla about four years ago. He has sentimental ties to Point La Jolla and hopes the city can keep the area accessible while finding another way to stop people from disturbing the wildlife.
“Ironically, this is actually the place, the exact point, where we were deciding whether we can and should move to San Diego at all,” Trydid shared with NBC 7.