San Diego’s city council has voted unanimously to shut down access to Point La Jolla and Boomer Beach after complaints from residents and activists with regard to sea lions.
“People will be prevented from actually going on to the rocks at Point La Jolla and for Boomer’s Beach if your purpose is to actually get into the water for swimming, for paddleboarding … you’re still going to be allowed to get into the water,” Joe LaCava, the city council member representing La Jolla, told FOX 5 San Diego.
The area is well known for its sea lion population, which chooses the rocks to breed and nurse.
The transition from seasonal to year-round closure is a first of its kind that is praised by sea lion activists while some tourists told the TV station they were not thrilled about the indefinite closures.
Eleven days prior to the Sept. 18 city council vote, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved the city’s plan to seal off the rocky area between La Jolla Cove beach and Boomer Beach from the public year-round to keep people and sea lions apart, La Jolla Light reports.
“While tourists may want to take their children for a [close-up] view and a selfie with the wild 800 pound sea lions, the Marine Mammal Protection Act recommends viewing from 50 feet,” a spokesperson with the Sierra Club Seal Society wrote to FOX 5. “Any disturbance of a sea lion defined as changing their behavior including looking at you or moving away or growling is subject to a fine.”
In July, a video shared by Instagram user @whoisjaphet showed two sea lions taking over the beach amid summer crowds at rocky La Jolla Cove. Beachgoers made a run for it after the sea lions seemingly charged at people on the shore.
“Please give that large, male sea lion plenty of room,” a lifeguard can be heard saying over a loudspeaker in the video. “They have bitten people, and they are protected animals.”
There are no plans to close La Jolla Cove beach to divers, swimmers, surfers and beachgoers due to its “critical part of the [recreation] for folks who live in the area, for visitors in the area,” LaCava told FOX 5.
The restrictions will be in place for seven years, when the city will need to apply for another amendment or a new coastal development permit, according to La Jolla Light.
Fox News’ Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.