The San Diego City Council Monday voted for a year-round closure of Boomer Beach and Point La Jolla, two areas that serve as California sea lion rookeries and areas which have been closed seasonally since 2021.
The vote amends the city’s municipal code to close the beach and rocky point until permanent solutions can be found for interactions between the sea lions and humans.
“Members of the public have been observed trying to touch, take ‘selfies,’ and get as close to sea lions as possible, which is potentially dangerous for not only the public, but also the animals,” a city statement read. “Human interactions with adult sea lions and their young may result in injury to, and/or abandonment of, sea lion offspring, as well as aggressive behavior from adult sea lions.”
The closure area encompasses Point La Jolla and parts of Boomer Beach, specifically from the Conrad F. Limbaugh and Harold F. Riley commemorative plaque northwest of La Jolla Cove to the last gazebo above Boomer Beach northeast of Rocky Point.
While the land is closed to humans and dogs, an ocean access lane remains open for swimming, surfing, spearfishing and other aquatic sports activities.
In 2021, the city applied for and was issued an Emergency Coastal Development Permit closing the beach from August 10 to September 15. When that expired, the city pursued a full CDP from May 25 through September 15 with signage, park rangers and physical barriers.
Councilman Joe LaCava, who represents La Jolla in Council District 1, led the charge to shutter the beaches in an effort to keep the public safe. He said the initial seasonal closure was successful and gave rangers the tools needed to keep the public and sea lions — which can weigh up to 800 pounds, have long pointed teeth, and can be territorial and protective of pups — separated.
However, he also called on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to hold violators accountable.
Phillip Musegaas, executive director for the San Diego Coastkeeper, said he felt the move by the council “strikes a balance” between ecology and the public’s use of natural resources. Members of the Sierra Club’s Seal Society of San Diego, appreciated the seasonal closure, which they claim has led to less erosion of the bluffs, greater seabird life, plants regrowing in the area and less litter.
Permanent solutions, which are yet to be studied by the city, could include additional signage, a gate which could only be accessed by city employees for maintenance or rescue efforts and a security camera — which would need to be approved by a surveillance committee.
City News Service contributed to this article.