04/08/2013 12:25 EDT | Updated 04/08/2013 12:54 EDT

La Jolla Bird Droppings Drive Homeowners And Tourists Away From Scenic California Retreat

When Mitt Romney wants to get away from it all, he tucks away in 3,000 square-foot estate in picturesque La Jolla, California.

The former U.S. presidential candidate is among a handful of billionaires who flock to the posh seaside community to soak up a stunning Pacific vista — and, lately, scrunch up their noses.

Thousands of brown pelicans, cormorants and sea lions have also reportedly found a welcome retreat in those ocean bluffs, turning La Jolla into a real breath-taker.

"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,'" restauranteur Christina Collignon told the Associated Press.

The seafood restaurant where she works stands on a cliff overlooking rocks caked in bird droppings — an increasingly familiar sight in the city of about 50,000 people.

Indeed, the situation has gotten so dire a local radio host has formed a 'poop patrol' to help dig the community out. After he took the first shift, grateful residents reportedly named a sandwich in his honour.

'It smells like something dead,' tourist Meghan Brummett, told the Daily Mirror, as she gazed upon the devastation.

Actually, that would be the smell of a renewed lease on life.

In the 1970s, the brown pelican was hovering near extinction thanks to the liberal use of the pesticide DDT. To revive their numbers, La Jolla enacted strict environmental legislation that has since allowed the pelican to surge back. With a population at around 650,000, the species was removed from the endangered species list in 2010.

But with prosperity comes poop.

Telling a local newspaper the droppings are "a potential public health disaster" restaurant owner George Hauer has started an online petition hoping to convince city authorities to take action.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, and the smell from the birds has never, ever been as bad as it is now,” business owner Megan Heine told the New York Times.

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery Sacred Sightings? See Gallery