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Tackling that La Jolla stench

SAN DIEGO -- Mayor Bob Filner announced late Friday that a complete plan for implementing the solution to the odor in La Jolla caused by bird guano is being put in place this Memorial Day weekend.

The mayor, working closely with San Diego City Councilmember Sherri Lightner, has gained assurances from regulatory agencies that the City may implement a plan that will essentially neutralize the chemicals and organisms causing a sometimes overwhelming stench to rise from accumulations of bird poop on top of cliffs just east of La Jolla Cove.

“We finally have a plan that we think may work! And that’s good, because I was about to go get a bucket and mop, or a big vacuum cleaner and do it myself,” Filner said.

“Look, this has just been a stinky mess for too long. I really want to thank the community for being so patient as we worked through permitting issues and found what we think is the best solution. We really couldn’t have done it without the help of Councilmember Lightner, who has been a great advocate for her constituents,” he said.

Lightner has worked for more than a year to help clear a path to a solution.

“This is a good day for our community,” she said. “La Jolla has always celebrated its connection to the ocean and the wildlife that brings tourists and residents to its shoreline. But this problem was just too much to endure,” she said. “I’m happy to have helped Mayor Filner get this solution in place.”

The mayor issued an Emergency Finding under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 in order to get the work started. The accumulation of bird waste is a public health hazard that threatens public health, safety and welfare.

“I hereby find that an emergency exists that requires action more quickly than would be permitted by the normal processes for acquiring an ‘incidental harassment permit’ under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). … I believe the City is expressly exempted from the MMPA provisions requiring such a permit in light of the need to protect the public health and welfare,” the Findings state.

The City’s Purchasing & Contracting Department has issued an agreement to the Blue Eagle company, manufacturers of the specialized Blue Eagle Bio-Active Microbial Odor Counteractant and Cleaner. The agreement calls for Blue Eagle to follow a detailed and highly-limited work plan to apply its product to the guano on top of the cliffs. The product includes non-pathogenic bacterium that will “digest” the guano and the noxious organisms the poop hosts, thereby eliminating odors in each of the treated areas.

Over the weekend Blue Eagle will be assessing site conditions and, in deference to the crowds expected to visit La Jolla Cove this Memorial Day, will begin its broader effort on Tuesday.

Blue Eagle has been using its product to address similar odor problems in the City of Sacramento and the Colorado Springs Zoo. The bio-active agents in the Blue Eagle product are limited to bacterium commonly found throughout natural environments. The Blue Eagle team will apply the product in small amounts to the guano build up while being supervised by both a biologist and geologist retained by the City.

The City chose Blue Eagle based on its response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued at the Mayor’s direction earlier this week. The RFP included requirements to acknowledge and adhere to plan considerations that lay out protections for public and natural resources. The plan also calls for a host of safety systems that will protect workers on site and the animal life they may encounter during the work.

At the Mayor’s direction, the Blue Eagle team will apply and monitor its product within the central portion of the affected area on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. The team will use this day to test multiple low-volume application methods in advance of a broader regular work schedule set to begin in early June.

During the work, visitors will be encouraged to move past areas quickly with active work underway. This will help to minimize the disturbance of wildlife and will allow crews to focus on efficiently completing their tasks. There will be no disruption to traffic patterns and only very limited number of parking spaces reserved for the Blue Eagle work team and environmental monitors assigned to the project.

The City will post explanatory signage on site during the work effort and will have staff available to answer questions from media and the visiting public.