A city advisory commission recommended to the council that dogs be allowed to run free in a one-acre section of San Clemente beach, despite some opposition.
The Beaches, Parks and Recreation Commission in a 4-2 vote said the council should designate a one-acre section of either North Beach or beach between 204 and Mariposa as open to dogs off-leash.
The proposed yearlong pilot program would allow dog owners to run their animals from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the designated area.
Parks commissioners Bill Thomas and Eric Swartz dissented, while commissioners Dagmar Justine Foy, Chris McCormack, Steve Strenger and Thomas Wicks voted in favor of the recommendation.
Strenger stressed all the work that had gone into crafting the plan to allow dogs on the beach, though Swartz asserted that the move hadn't been properly vetted.
"With all due respect for Eric, we've had it for three years," Strenger said. "We've vetted everything. We've vetted our vetting."
Bill Thomas said user groups should be responsible for paying for enforcement, upkeep and maintenance, which city staffers estimate will cost roughly $15,000 per year.
with his wife, said he wanted to morph the group into a support organization called "Friends of San Clemente Dog Beach," but the infrastructure wasn't in place yet to raise funds.
Several of the residents who spoke at the meeting were against the decision, worrying about health issues with dog feces left in the sand and potential dog bites.
Marine Safety Chief Bill Humphries worried about the potential for bites, though he said the early morning hours would help keep dogs away from sunbathers.
Brenda Miller, who spoke at the meeting with her dog Foxy, said she thought the decision was a fair one.
"It would have been easy [for the commission] to say, 'we're just opening a can of worms,'" and accomplish nothing, she said.
San Clemente City Council will vote on the issue in an upcoming meeting.