By Pat Sherman
The LJVMA board noted that the putrid odor at La Jolla Cove — so intense in recent years that it reportedly drove customers from local restaurants and hotels — is starting to return after some relief last year due to high tides, rain and remedies employed by the city to rid the rocks above La Jolla Cove of bird and marine mammal excrement (including installation of a gate in the fence above the Cove to provide easy public access to the bluffs, which the city says has helped deter sea lions and birds from gathering and defecating there).
The city applied another treatment of microbial foam to the bluffs on April 10 that digests bird guano, in advance of last weekend’s Concours d’Elegance auto show.
However, LJVMA Executive Director Sheila Fortune noted that the city has more recently determined the smell to be generated to a larger degree by waste from a growing sea lion colony at the Cove.
LJVMA board members say they view the foam application, which costs more than $100,000 per two applications in one year, as ineffective in dealing with the current source of the smell.
City workers locked the gate above La Jolla Cove April 10 while workers applied more microbial foam to rid the bluffs of smelly bird excrement.
La Jolla Shores attorney Norm Blumenthal represents a nonprofit organization comprised of business owners and residents that filed suit against the City of San Diego late last year for failing to rid La Jolla Cove of the odor.
Though the city responded to the group’s request to install the gate, in an e-mail Blumenthal said the organization, Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement, is “not satisfied with the partial relief.”
“There are still many smelly days at the Cove,” Blumenthal wrote. “We are going to court on May 16 … to ask for further relief from the city within the next 90 days or, if not provided, then a trial date.”
The group is asking the city to install stairs and handrails near the gate “so pedestrians can safely walk on the rocks and go out to the edge,” as well as $30,000 to retain a seal lion trainer who Blumenthal says can train the sea lions within 90 days to “hang out at another rock.”
In an e-mail, Stacey LoMedico, the city’s assistant chief operating officer, reaffirmed the city’s position that there is “no funding” allocated for the stairs and handrails, adding she had not previously heard of the sea lion trainer proposal. Blumenthal said his client can solve the odor problem via the stairs, rails and trainer for less then $50,000.
“The prior spraying for $150,000 was, respectfully, felony stupid and expensive,” he maintained.
LoMedico said the city has no further cliff treatments scheduled at this time.