Tourists and locals in La Jolla Cove have been reporting strong odors recently that officials say are the result of an accumulation of bird feces. The droppings, which come primarily from seagulls, cover the coastal rocks and outcroppings near the business district of downtown La Jolla and are becoming a growing problem to tourists in the area, while biologists argue otherwise.
Biologists claim the smell comes as a result of environmental protections issued over the past few decades, bringing back endangered species as a result.
In terms of tourism and business, the city of La Jolla is making strict environmental regulations to address the situation, such as roping off the rocks with red tape.
Business owners such as Megan Heines say the stench is a continuous topic amongst travelers, according to a Nov. 24 New York Times article.
La Jolla City councilmembers say biodegradable and nontoxic cleaners will be used to safely remove the droppings and clean the rock areas without negatively effecting the environment.
Waters in the La Jolla Cove area are protected by the state, which as a result require multiple state regulatory agencies to issue permits before agents can be used. According to regulators, the process will take about two years.
In November, local city councilmember and UCSD alumna Sherri Lightner wrote a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, expressing concern on the issue.
“La Jolla finds itself caught in a morass of state regulations, and it stinks. Literally,” Lightner said in the letter. “The issue has implications not just for La Jolla and San Diego but also for the State of California.”
State officials say washing the area with a non-toxic solution could cause concern due to run off into the ocean, going against water quality regulations. City officials are hoping the feces will be washed away naturally by rainstorms. Little rain from the past few years is contributing to the growing stench.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner proposed a suggestion to vacuum the rocks, promising to find a solution to the problem. Filner has not yet supplied details regarding his plan.
A December city staff meeting concluded that the stench isn’t a health hazard, but a “nuisance odor.”
A solution has not officially been determined yet.