SAN DIEGO, CA. The tennis match over the seals at a La Jolla beach ping-pongs again. This time, Superior Court Judge Yuri Hofman, ordered the City of San Diego to remove the seals within 72 hours.
This improbable scenario has been playing back and forth for a couple of years as each side of the warring factions gets a favorable court ruling.
It is not clear whether the City has to begin or end its dispersal of the seals from the Children’s Pool beach within 72 hours. But it will begin sometime between now and Thursday morning. The Mayor’s Office is posed to decide the big “when.” But La Jollans – get ready for barking dogs from from 6 a.m. to sunset each day, possibly for years.
The Union-Tribune reported that San Diego plans to use a portable public-address system that will emit sounds of barking dogs in order to scare off the seals, at a cost of nearly $700,000, – most of which will go to cover the costs of having police officers present for crowd control and “public safety”, meaning ensuring that protesters don’t interfere.
Judge Yuri Hofmann, drawn out of retirement, was reportedly abrupt with the lawyers at today’s hearing, threatening heavy fines for each day the city does not act to comply with his order. The U-T reported that Hofmann said: “It’s not the court’s job to decide the means by which the seals are dispersed, only that it be done and it be done immediately.”
According to the U-T:
The city’s plan may never actually go into effect. Pro-seal lawyers are expected to ask an appeals court for an immediate injunction – an appeal that could be strengthened if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill giving the City Council control over the fate of Children’s Pool.
The council would then likely declare it a seal sanctuary.
Children’s Pool is an artificial cove created by a crescent-shaped sea wall built in 1931 at the behest of La Jolla matriarch Ellen Browning Scripps. For decades, the cove provided the public easy access to nearby rocky reefs.
Seals had always been seen in the vicinity of the cove, but their numbers started to grow in the early 1990s, for reasons still unknown to scientists. Public health officials closed the beach in 1997 because of high bacteria levels from the seals’ waste. Lawsuits ensued.
Renatta Escobedo, 19, of La Jolla, organized a protest outside the court in support of leaving the seals alone. She said she was saddened by the judge’s decision.
Here’s the full article.
According to thet:
Attorney Bryan Pease representing the Animal Protection and Rescue League had a counterresponse ready for Hofmann’s order dispersing seals. “I am preparing an emergency motion for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to put a stay on state court Judge Yuri Hoffman’s extreme and illegal ruling that San Diego has 72 hours to disperse the seals,” said Pease in an e-mail. “This comes in the face of a near-unanimous bill passed by the state legislature that would change the wording on the 1931 Tidelands Grant to allow the seals to stay. Hoffman is legislating from the bench and engaging in extreme judicial activism.”
Check out thisby Competitive Edge Research & Communication. Over 60% of respondents want the seals to remain and oppose the City removing them.
Christine Kehoe issues Statement about Judge’s 72 hour Order
SAN DIEGO – Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) issued the following statement today after Superior Court Judge Yuri Hofmann ordered the City of San Diego to begin dispersing the seals from The Children’s Pool beach in La Jolla within 72 hours:
“I appreciate the urgency of this matter and have asked Governor Schwarzenegger to immediately sign my legislation, SB 428, which would give the City discretion on whether the seals stay. Judge Hofman’s order appears to be a hasty move, given that my legislation needs only the Governor’s signature to resolve this 16-year problem. The City has already spent over $1 million in legal fees, and the Judge should take into account the Legislature’s strong bipartisan effort to spare the City from spending an additional $700,000 to immediately remove the seals.”
(Thanks to San Diego Politico.)