SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge has declined to dismiss a federal civil rights lawsuit that claims a beach in the ritzy San Diego neighborhood of La Jolla is denying access to the physically disabled.
The lawsuit was filed in June 2013 by a La Jolla resident who requires the use of a wheelchair and lives a few miles from Children’s Pool Beach. The lawsuit claims that disabled people are deprived from accessing the beach because the only way to get to the beach is a steep flight of stairs.
“Each time the plaintiff has swum at Children’s Pool, he has been bodily carried down the stairs by others,” the lawsuit said. “That is scary, frustrating, discomforting, embarrassing and difficult.”
The city of San Diego argued that adding a ramp would destroy the historic integrity of the beach, a breakwater built in 1931 with a large wall designed to provide easier access to ocean swimming for young people.
But U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan rejected that argument, denying a request from the city to dismiss the lawsuit, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Saturday.
In a Sept. 30 ruling, Whelan wrote that the city needs a state historic preservation officer to back up its position. The city relied on two of its own experts, a historian and an engineer who said proposals for a ramp would damage the beach’s historical character.
The city attorney’s office said San Diego will continue fighting the lawsuit and is ready to go to trial.
The case is unrelated to another lawsuit seeking to restore year-round public access to the beach. The city has a nearly year-old policy of closing the beach during seal-mating season, which runs from December to May.