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Dogs a Step Closer to Beach Access

The Beaches, Parks and Recreation Commission Tuesday voted to recommend to San Clemente Council that dogs be allowed to run in a proposed one-acre perimeter.

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.

Virginia Hall December 14, 2011 at 03:07 PM
As one who recently was nipped by a very large "puppy" running off- leash on the Shorecliffs beach I would say that I do not support any measure that allows dogs off- leash on a public beach. And I believe that all beaches beyond the mean high tide are public. The owner of this dog who said she does not live in Shorecliffs was very apologetic and spoke of plans to get some training for her dog. Luckily I was wearing jeans and the nip scraped and left a bruise but did not break the skin so I escaped a trip to the Dr. to get a tetanus shot and she escaped having her dog impounded for weeks. I am a regular beach walker and this is the second time I've been "nipped" by an off leash dog. I like dogs and sympathize with their natural exuberance and need to run and play and with responsible owners but experience leads me to oppose this measure. Virginia Hall
Mr Salty December 14, 2011 at 03:35 PM
One Acre? A large dog can't even hit it's stride on a parcel that small. How typically San Clemente. Poorly planned is better then not at all.
Lindsey Hanson December 14, 2011 at 05:08 PM
I don't want your poop machines on the beach. Sure you think they are precious but not everyone likes dogs.
Mr Salty December 14, 2011 at 09:10 PM
This city has over 3 miles of beach and is bordered by a 4 mile State Park Beach. Dog owners have just as much right to use the beach as you do. The simple fact that you won't even share a strip less then 100 yards long speaks volumes on your true character. Good Day.
Lindsey Hanson December 14, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Oh Mr. Salty not wanting dog feces on the beach is an opinion that does not impede on my character at all. The fact is not everyone like dogs as much as others. Speaks volumes about my true character huh? WOW, Not much of an argument. Seriously man! I'm curious what the home owner on the end there at NB thinks. They already deal with the storm drain and the train, the constant sight and smell of dogs defecating has got to be appealing.
Richard Ford December 14, 2011 at 10:23 PM
Adam, Your story said "Several of the residents who spoke at the meeting were against the decision,..." leaving the impression that few supported the idea. When all the residents had spoken there were 12 who supported the proposal and 4 who did not. I think that's an important part of the story. Thanks.
george gregory December 15, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Has anyone tried to pick up canine fecal matter as it rolls around in the surf breaking up I find it odd that we can't wash our side walks down or store a ladder on a truck but we might have to swim or walk in canine POO . I find the coastal trail POOIE enough Will the big dogs eat the little dogs, do we need a big and small poo place, will it be a 3 big dog to a 2 dog vote I believe there is a canine beach at the state park at camp Pendleton please go there , how about at the coastal trail at T street and the pier, its already on the beach and animals are allowed on the coastal trail I like dogs I believe they are the animal to own, but still i dont own or pick up after one The pressure on our very narrow little north beach is great enough already ,please don't , we need sand not dogs Mr Ford meetings are hard to make
Adam Townsend December 15, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Thanks for your interest. I don't agree that this sentence implies that more people were against the decision than not. Several just means more than two. I left the number vague with purpose because it was unclear how many emails commissioners received from residents who didn't speak, or which ones were in favor and which weren't.
Adam Townsend December 15, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Brenda Miller, who is quoted in the article, emailed me about her statements. She wanted to make clear she was in full support of the commission. I told her I can't change published material unless it's factually inaccurate, but that I would publish her email here: I would like to ask you to include a more complete statement from me in your article, if you would please. The tone of my quote at the end of the article could appear to some readers as negative, when left as is. I particularly don't want the Commission to have any reason to conclude that I was critical of their efforts. If you would review your notes, I recall complimenting the Commission by mentioning their diligent examination of the issue from multiple perspectives. The latter is important to convey my underlying sentiment, i.e., admiration for the Commission's thoroughness and courage in hosting a public dialogue on such a controversial topic. It was exemplary leadership.
Kathy Thomas May 22, 2012 at 08:22 PM
...kids in diapers/naked babies, teenagers pot smoking, or even the lovely tourist with their trash billowing out their bech gear-make more of a mess than my dog.
Kathy Thomas May 22, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I agre! Kids in diapers/naked babies, teenagers pot smoking, or even the lovely tourist with their trash billowing out their bech gear-make more of a mess than my dog.
Kathy May 23, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Good grief "poop machines" really Ms Hansen??? The hours proposed are from 4am until 9am - that is a pretty narrow window for such snappy remarks....maybe you are still frustrated your north beach shopping complex was voted down.

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