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Dog Beach Nixed, But Council Wants More Pooch Parks

The San Clemente City Council left the door open for future dog beach consideration, however.

Updated as of 7:50 a.m. Wednesday

The San Clemente City Council Tuesday shot down immediate plans for a dog beach, but told staffers to start working on a plan to let leashed dogs in more parks and build more fenced open space for dogs to run.

Council voted 5-0 in favor of the park proposals, but Mayor Jim Evert didn't call for a motion for a vote on moving forward with the beach because other council members made it clear they wouldn't support immediate plans.

Still, council members Lori Donchak, Tim Brown and Jim Dahl didn't reject the idea out-of-hand. They said they wouldn't support it now, however, because of regional mandates to reduce coastal bacteria levels and a pending federal beach replenishment program that could add more beach area in the next several years to make a dog section more feasible.

"I do think we need to increase the amenities for dogs and pets," Brown said. "[But] we don't have an abundant beach line -- we have a strand that has been disappearing over the years."

Tom Bonigut, assistant city engineer, said that though an increase in bacterial levels in San Clemente's coastal waters may be negligible if a strip of beach were open to dogs, any increase could result in steep fines from regional water quality agencies.

Bonigut said, however, allowing more dogs in parks wouldn't cause problems with water quality, according to a runoff study now underway in the city.

Councilman Bob Baker, a dog owner wholeheartedly in favor of extending pooches' park access, stopped short of supporting an off-leash dog beach like the one proposed by staff and some San Clemente dog owners.

"Your dog should be on a leash at all times when you're in public," Baker said. "If you're letting your dog run around on the beach without a leash, you're making a big mistake."

The strand of beach in question Tuesday runs from Dije Court to Mariposa Point and would have been open to dogs from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m.

About a dozen residents spoke against the beach plan, while about two dozen spoke in favor of it.

"One of the things we're really disappointed with is the lack of amenities for dogs," said San Clemente resident Lee Bexiga. She said the small patch where dogs can run off-leash at is inadequate.

"It's not the type of amenity I would have expected from a vibrant and progressive city like San Clemente," she said.

Resident Kirk Kegel was vehemently opposed to the idea of letting dogs anywhere in the city other than where they are allowed now.

"I'm very disappointed that this community would even consider letting dogs on beaches and parks," Kegel said. "Now I see there is a special interest group puting their interests above the rest of the residents."

According to Steve Streiger of the Beaches, Parks and Recreation Commission who worked on developing the dog beach plan, San Clemente is home to 16,000 dogs. Only 5,000 of those are licensed.

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Allison Winters October 17, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Bob Baker wants a place for his dog to play but voted against bathrooms for handicapped kids. Great priorities BOB, dogs not kids! From the San Clemente City Council meetings, here is a sample of Bob Bakerʼs Top 10 “No” votes. 1. No to continuing the Sunday Morning Farmers Market on Del Mar. 2. No to the San Clemente Sports Hall of Fame which is nothing more than pictures on the wall of the Vista Hermosa Aquatic Parks of outstanding SCHS athletes. Bob Baker#1 was the sole dissenting vote 3. No bathrooms for handicapped kids at Courtneyʼs Sand Castle. He said they can go down the street. 4. No to building sidewalks at Max Berg Park near the Las Palmas Elementary School. 5. No to protecting our coastal canyons by dividing a critical coastal canyon lot and opening up SC to splitting lots on all our costal canyons. 6. No to provide parking in North Beach in support of parking needs for commuters and to provide parking so our the nearby historical buildings can be revitalized. 7. No to banning smoking in public parks where kids play. 8. No to banning single use plastic bags. 9. No to local art project by painting electrical boxes. 10. Cost the City of San Clemente $1000ʼs as part of ethics investigation for leaking confidential information from a closed session of the city council. There are many more no votes but this is a one page flyer. Please check for yourself what makes Bob Baker #1 the worst council member in the history of San Clemente.

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