Are sea lions a public nuisance?
Apparently not, according to the California Court of Appeal in last week’s case of Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement v. City of San Diego.
The case stems from the recent explosion in growth of the sea lion population at La Jolla Cove near San Diego.
For years, residents and business owners have been complaining of a foul stench emanating from the cove. The odor is largely attributed to sea lion feces.
Citizens for Odor & Nuisance Abatement (CONA) sued San Diego, arguing that the city was responsible for encouraging the sea lion population growth in a manner that created a public nuisance for area residents.
CONA claims that the population expansion stems from a barrier fence that the city put up near La Jolla cove to keep people out. The lack of humans, CONA argues, encouraged sea lions to congregate there, leading to waste buildup and noxious odors.
The Court disagreed.
It analyzed California’s public nuisance statute, and found that CONA could not establish a causal link between the fence being put up, and the noxious odors coming from sea lion waste.
Specifically, there was conflicting testimony as to when the fence was put up. On the other hand, the sea lion waste odor problem developed recently, in the past decade.
This case might seem unusual to the layperson. Why is the Court actually analyzing sea lion feces?!
The case illustrates an important area of California law.
Public nuisance law dates back in California to the 1800s, and it’s something every first year law student learns about. Nuisance law is there to protect the public and allow all citizens to enjoy life in the Golden State.
There are cases in this day and age applying this important area of law.
For questions about your public or private nuisance case, my office is ready to assist, 24/6!