Three months after becoming the first full-time park ranger in a newly created position at the Children's Pool, Lisa Wilson has stepped down.
Wilson, a three-year veteran with the city of San Diego, requested a transfer. Her last day at the controversial beach and seal rookery was April 2.
A buzz circulated Sunday at the Children’s Pool on whether Wilson requested a transfer or quit and why.
Wilson deferred questioning from La Jolla Patch to the mayor’s office. Parks and Recreation Director Stacey LoMedico declined to comment on the reasoning behind the transfer, citing “this is a personnel matter and we don’t discuss personnel matters.”
LoMedico confirmed that no park ranger is currently assigned to the Children’s Pool and “in light of the funding for the ranger expiring on June 30, 2011, the department is evaluating the next steps.”
The hiring of a full-time ranger has been made possible through the solicitation of private funds by Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office, whose district includes La Jolla.
“Councilmember Lightner is committed to the ranger program,” said Council Representative Jesse Mays. “She believes the ranger provides the best solutions to ensure that all visitors to the Children’s Pool have a safe and enjoyable experience while also keeping the seals safe.”
The decision to hire a ranger came in response to a request by Lightner, who proposed a full-time park ranger or lifeguard be hired to keep the peace at .
“The problem the city has at Children’s Pool is not a seal problem. It is a people problem. Years of litigation and police calls for service to the Children’s Pool have cost the taxpayers millions of dollars,” Lightner said in a memorandum dated March 10, 2010.
Lightner added, “The people problem at Children’s Pool is twofold: Citizens who want to use the pool in a lawful and respectful manner feel they are being wrongly harassed by people who are there to protect the seals; citizens who are there to protect the seals feel that, without their vigilance, bad things might happen to the seals.”
In the first three months of 2011, 48 calls for services were made to San Diego Police from the Children's Pool, compared to 19 calls last year and 22 the year before, according to data collected by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Wilson has over seven years of experience as a park ranger for agencies including the National Park Service, the county of San Diego and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Wilson replaced interim park ranger Randy Hawley, who was hired in July 2010. Hawley, then retired, agree to serve in the position temporarily until a full-time, permanent replacement could be secured.