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Is Something Rotten in the City of La Jolla?

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If you’re in La Jolla for lunch, you might think twice before asking for patio seating.

According to various reports including one from The Associated Press, seriously stinky breezes are leaving tourists and business owners gasping for air.

"We've had to relocate tables inside," Christina Collignon, a hostess at the cliffside steak restaurant Eddie V's, told the AP. "Because when people go out to the patio, some are like 'Oh my God. I can't handle the smell.'"

The area of La Jolla Cove is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, posh boutique hotels, and a few famous, well-heeled residents like Mitt Romney. It's also an area of "special biological significance" by California law, which means there are strict regulations to protect local marine life, like dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, and countless birds.

Those rules have made the area attractive to large numbers of two endangered species, brown pelicans and cormorants. Both species have flocked to La Jolla, no pun intended, and have covered the seaside rocks and outcroppings with guano—lots of guano. The resulting scent, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune article, is akin to a blend of “rotting vinegar and human body odor.”

For years, La Jolla has been the site of another wildlife-related debate: the seals that have taken up residence on the previously human-covered Children's Pool beach. A new “beach cam" monitors both the seals and any humans who might bother them.

And now the bird funk, some say, is hurting local business. The owner of legendary local restaurant George’s at the Cove has started an online petition to clean up the poop—although city officials have indicated that environmental safety makes that chore complicated. Some have argued for horn blasts to shoo the birds away, while others have suggested tarps or intimidating falconry.

One La Jolla waiter, meanwhile, says that this may be the price one pays for natural harmony. “People come here because they want to see nature,” Anton Marek told the AP. “Poop is a part of nature.”

Photo by istockphoto

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