Children’s Pool, La Jolla

Children’s Pool Beach, also known as Casa Beach, is a small sandy beach located at 850 Coast Boulevard, at the end of Jenner Street, in La Jolla, California.

Waves crashing against the sea wall at Children’s Pool

A sea wall built in 1931 protects the beach from crashing waves, making it a favorite spot for divers and swimmers. Before the “wave wall” was built, there was a shallow water area between a large rock and a mainland bluff called “Seal Rock Point.” The sea wall was built on top of several rocks, across the channel.It is topped by a paved walkway protected by railings.

Local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps paid for the sea wall project in order to create a Children’s Pool, a place where children could play and swim protected from the oncoming waves onshore. Ms. Scripps gave the completed project to the City of San Diego. The gift was confirmed by an act of the Legislature, signed by the Governor in 1931, which says that “said lands shall be devoted exclusively to public park, bathing pool for children, parkway, highway, playground, and recreational purposes”, while specifying that the area should remain available for fishing.

In the more than seventy years since the sea wall was built, roughly three quarters of the pool area within the sea wall has filled up with sand, greatly decreasing the protected area available for recreational swimming.



Situation at the beach

Lifeguards and seal advocates monitor the beach area. Swimming is allowed, but not recommended due to the high Coliform Index.

The City has maintained a rope barrier from December 15 through May 15, so that pregnant seals can rest and give birth on the beach without humans coming too close and frightening them. Pupping season is officially mid-January to mid-April. However, the appellate court ruled in 2007 that the barrier is illegal. In 2008 a federal appeals court judge gave permission for the city to reinstall the rope. The rope barrier is “advisory”, with an opening for the public to pass through, as mandated by the Coastal Commission.

Some seals on the beach are acclimated to people and sometimes play with swimmers and divers. However, the city lifeguard service warns that “Like all wild animals, seals and sea lions are unpredictable and can become aggressive quickly. They have sharp teeth and may bite, particularly if cornered or harassed.” Sea lions in particular are territorial and can be aggressive, and should be given a wide berth.

The San Diego Police Department says that police have responded to “numerous calls for service at Children’s Pool involving alleged incidents of threatened assault and intimidation” between seal advocates, swimmers and divers, and that in some cases citations have been issued or people taken into custody.  A La Jolla man was indicted for sending e-mailed death threats to a seal advocate who was videotaping interactions between divers and seals, and to the Animal Protection and Rescue League.

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