The sweet smell of success of its wealthy residents can't mask the everyday aromas in the upscale California community of La Jolla where bird poop is causing a loss of business and poses a potential health disaster in the enclave that Mitt Romney sometimes calls home.
Pelicans and cormorants once graced the area with photographic beauty, but now the smell and droppings from hundreds of the seabirds is driving away tourists and angering homeowners. The bird poop cakes the coastal rocks and surrounding areas, leaving visitors and residents holding their noses.
“We’ve had to relocate tables inside because when people go out to the patio, some are like, ‘Oh my God. I can’t handle the smell,’” said Christina Collignon, who works as a hostess at Eddie V’s, a steak and seafood restaurant overlooking the rocks.
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Restaurant owner George Hauer had more dire warnings.
“The cormorant colony at the La Jolla cove has reached critical mass with their excrement.” said Hauer, who owns George’s at the Cove, after launching an online petition to take steps to avoid a health problem and loss of business.
Conservation efforts over the years may have led to the current mess.
“We’re kind of a victim of our own success,” admitted Robert Pitman, a marine biologist with the national Marine Fisheries Service. Protection of the birds has brought about an onslaught of feathered creatures to the San Diego area community. “I think there will have to be compromises all around,” Pitman said.
The cove where the odor rages is one of 34 state-protected “areas of special biological significance” and a simple permit to seek some solution could take more than two years, according to one regulator.
“La Jolla finds itself caught in a morass of state regulations – and it stinks,” wrote City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, whose district includes La Jolla, in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown,
The city council hopes to get immediate help from state officials to overcome the bureaucratic roadblocks when it meets later this month.
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When he's there, Romney will have to escape from the smell in the security of a 3,000-square-foot house on the beach. The 2012 presidential runner-up and former Massachusetts governor also has plans to renovate the house, one of several he owns around the country, with a $12-million project
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