The City of San Diego began installing a gate in a fence at La Jolla Cove Tuesday, in hopes that people scampering on the rocks will discourage large marine mammals from lounging there and causing a terrible stink.
The gate will allow people to access the cliffs, city spokesman Alex Roth told City News Service. Having people on the bluffs will keep sea lions, seals and birds at more of a distance, which could reduce the odor, he said.
A group of area businesses sued the city of San Diego this month over the pungent smell, alleging that people have been sickened and that local establishments have lost revenue.
Roth said interim Mayor Todd Gloria decided to have the gate installed at a meeting of top city executives on Dec. 17, before the lawsuit was filed. City documents show city officials were considering the idea as early as Nov. 8.
He said some people in La Jolla believe the white wooden fence has allowed wildlife to take over the bluffs, leading to the stench, and that allowing people to explore the area again will restore balance.
"You can't put yourself in danger or actively harass the wildlife, but you can go down to the cliffs," Roth said. "We hope this will alleviate the problem."
A memo from city Assistant Chief Operating Officer Stacey LoMedico says lifeguards can issue warnings to people who appear to be at risk on the unstable bluffs, and cite those seen mistreating sea lions.
Roth said current city executives are unaware of when or why the fence was installed in the first place. In her memo, LoMedico said it was built prior to 2002.
Former Mayor Bob Filner hired a company earlier this year to remove bird droppings from rocks in the cove, hoping that would get rid of the odor. However, complaints about the smell resumed soon after.