OPINION: Dog Beach Is a Boon for San Clemente

Council will vote March 6 on whether to allow dogs on a small portion of beach in San Clemente.

Editor's Note: This is a letter from Don Slater, a staunch advocate of designating part of San Clemente's coastline to allow dogs. He and his wife are founders of the nascent Friends of San Clemente Dog Beach.

It seems that change is in the air in San Clemente. The pier area is fixed up beautifully, the new sports park is now open, Max Berg Plaza Park is expanding, and many more improvements are in the works.

Now, the City Council will vote on expanding the dog friendliness of the community. Already many business and restaurants have set out bowls of water and welcome dogs in outdoor seating areas. Such practices are kind to the animals and make good business sense, as they have found out.

A majority of homes have a dog as a pet; this is a large devoted segment of the population. These people spend money on and for their pets at an ever increasing rate. When they visit this community, our businesses and tax rolls will benefit. People and their pets go where they are wanted.

A small, little-used piece of beach is all we ask. By comparison to the earlier mentioned improvements, it is little to ask. Every recreational activity the City provides has potential of abuse, danger and ongoing expenses. We all pay taxes here, yet a majority of people are not served with dog friendly activities.



Stay in your yard, the sidewalk or the street is today’s mantra. If you have a problem with a dog beach, don’t go there; go to another of our fine beaches. You can only be on one beach at a time.

People will learn through fines and peer pressure to clean up after their pets, and then take this habit with them elsewhere in the city. The end result will be cleaner urban runoff and cleaner water. Friends Of San Clemente Dog Beach (visit us on Facebook) will promote responsible pet ownership and assist the city with keeping the beach clean.

We ask all in favor to email the City Council or better yet attend the meeting on 6 p.m. March 6 in Council Chambers, 100.

If you come, they will build it.

Mr Salty February 29, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Having been around long enough to remember when having your dog on our beaches was no big deal, I hope and pray this Dog Beach comes to pass. The city dog park is so small it's simply an embarrassment for a community of this size and having to leave town just to let my kids really get out and run is just wrong. Dog Beaches up and down the state pull in heaps of tourists and get plenty of use. Coronado, San Diego(2) Del Mar/Solana, Huntington, Santa Barbara, Cayucos and Carmel have all seen fit to allow Dog Beaches. San Clemente could stand to be a little more visitor friendly and a Dog Beach is a tremendous and welcome draw for travelers. BTW & especially for Lindsey, A couple weeks ago as I was getting ready to go for a surf, I distinctly heard the lifeguard in Tower 0 announce over the Mic to a woman walking her dog on the beach " I'm sorry ma'am. UNFORTUNATELY dogs are not allowed on San Clemente beaches. Please move up to the beach trail. "
Nancy February 29, 2012 at 02:29 AM
That dog really IS bodysurfing! How cool!
GreenInOC February 29, 2012 at 05:30 AM
This would be brilliant! My favorite place to take my pooch is the Huntington Beach Dog Beach. I would go every single day if the drive wasn't so far but having one in San Clemente - divine! I've spent money in Huntington Beach every single time I've gone. This would be such a good move for San Clemente.
george gregory February 29, 2012 at 03:07 PM
have you ever tryed picking up dog poo in the surf break
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I can't wait until everyone within driving distance brings their little poop machines to the beach. I love dog poop between my toes and floating in the the water in my eyes and in my nose. Surfs up!
Abby Schimenek February 29, 2012 at 04:55 PM
this would be amazing for San Clemente. If the dog beach initiative does not pass, is there a backup plan for at least dog-friendly on-leash hours? when I lived in town, I would have loved to walk my dog, on-leash (with poop bags attached to the leash, mind you) from North Beach to the Pier and beyond. When I lived in Laguna Beach, dogs were allowed on all beaches all year on-leash. During the peak summer season, dogs were allowed before 8am and after 6pm. It was GREAT!
Don Slater February 29, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Have you ever had a Pelican poop on your head on dry land?
Don Slater February 29, 2012 at 06:06 PM
He will do this over and over again, even on his own without the ball. He gets wiped out and keeps going out to catch the next one. We have a life vest for him now, it works like a body board and keeps me less worried.
Adam Townsend February 29, 2012 at 06:15 PM
I'm sure that option will be under discussion. There are two potential slices of beach that are candidates for dog areas: one at North Beach and the other further south. The City Council will have the ultimate say in the exact rules, hours and locations that dogs will be allowed on the beach, if they decide to allow dogs on the beach at all. Often, council members will hash out provisions on the dais that are a little different from the recommendations from their appointed advisory commissions. The Beaches, Parks and Recreation Commission recommended approval of the dog beach plan, while the coastal advisory commission recommended it be shot down. We'll have to see what happens at the meeting. I'll be reporting on it.
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 06:21 PM
"while the coastal advisory commission recommended it be shot down. " Because the idea is toxic! This is truly an argument made with love. People love their pets, but love is also sometimes blind. Hundreds of dogs on the beach daily is going to be a significant pollutant.
Don Slater February 29, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Hello Lindsey Hanson, it's about time for me to answer some of these issues you raise. The Coastal Advisory Commission meeting slipped by under our radar so only the two anti- dog people attended. I was on the phone all week with the city prior to that meeting. I was asking about when it would come before the City Council, nobody mentioned that it was going before the C.A.C.on Thursday. So nobody was able to hear our side of the issue and ask questions. So your joyfull "shot down" remark relates to a one sided argument. Unless shooting wounded Seagulls is your idea of fair. As far as being toxic, there are studies that show the opposite is true. The Friends Of San Clemente Dog Beach will work to educate people to clean up after there pets and raise awairness of keeping the whole city clean. The beach is a reward for good behavior and will encourage citywide awairness and improvement. Toxins for the most part enter the ocean through urban run-off. This contains droppings from birds,mice,rats,cats,coyotes,deer,humans and yes dogs. All of those reasons will continue, though we hope to cut back the dog's contribution. This is an educational process that takes time and is possible when people can congregate someware fun that they want to continue to use. Lindsey Hanson I have an assingment for you, could you please calculate how much dog poop it takes to equal one Blue Whale poop, keeping in mind that they are recent additions to our local environment.
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Don it's simple and there is no calculation necessary. More is simply more. And the last thing our oceans need is more. Lastly if you truly believe you can "educate" (I'll use the word "trust" in it's place) pet owners to do the right thing I'll give you an assignment. Walk the beach trail back and forth one time and give me an honest count of dog waste left behind by pet owners. Also please provide me with your educational method on how to make the human race do right because I think you will be a great nominee for the Noble Peace prize. You are a dog lover. You love your dog and you want your dog to be able to play at the beach and no amount of rational evidence will change your mind. It's the fuel for this discussion. Don't let love make you blind. Your argument is weak. You simply argue that our oceans are already polluted so why not? That's a horrendously backwards and seriously harmful outlook. Based on your argument i think smokers should be allowed to smoke on the beach again. I mean the ocean is already polluted why not. Maybe the city can "bring awareness" to the smokers and they will all walk to the trash can to discard their butts. A splash of reality is in order sir.
Mr Salty February 29, 2012 at 09:43 PM
One of the indicators of local ocean health is a little creature called the bean clam. The bean clam is sort of like the canary in the coal mine. In places where the water is clean enough, bean clams will inhabit the intertidal zone and of course if it's dirty they are nowhere to be found. Guess what Lindsey ? San Clemente beaches have no bean clams. Want to know where you can find them? At the north end of the trail one beach, right on the other side of SONGS, where everyone runs there dogs.
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Maybe we can all get pin worms too. That'd be extra great.
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Surely that has nothing to do with the fact that there is no residential watershed there? Come on people. I know you love your dogs. That part is clear but there are no magical unicorns to swoop down and eliminate Fecal Coliform Bacteria. The beaches are cleaner at the far end of town by the power plant because there is no residential run off. MORE IS MORE IS MORE. Oh look is that a tootsie roll? Nope it's a dog turn. Sweet!
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 09:58 PM
writes Ray M. Kaplan, DVM, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Infectious Diseases; Director, Parasitology Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens. “The eggs only can be readily killed by extreme heat (steam or flame) or long-term exposure (weeks to months) to UV radiation (direct sunlight). … there is little that can be done to remove or kill the eggs other than waiting for eggs to die naturally or physically removing the surface soil layer.”
Don Slater February 29, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Hi Mr. Salty do bean clams eat pinworms, I surf fish with worms.
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM
That would be NO Don. No magical unicorn there either.
Don Slater February 29, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Oh darn, I was hoping to improve the fishing and claming around here.
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Sorry Don but copious amounts of fresh dog doo won't help. If that's your goal, I suggest you retract your argument. That's why we have programs like the WATERSHED TASK FORCE. We already have an abundant problem and adding more to the pile doesn't make the pile go away.
Don Slater February 29, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Do the unicorns get to have a beach or do you hate unicorns also.
Lindsey Hanson February 29, 2012 at 11:25 PM
No Don, Unicorns don't exist. And for the record I do not hate dogs. Quite the contrary. However the proof is in the pudding. The facts are in and more dog poop equals more dog poop. I try not to let emotions drown out scientific fact. Want and need are two very different things. Not getting what we want to do what we need is not always the most joyous conclusion however it is a integral part to being a thoughtful human being. Avoiding the facts and condemning me a dog hater just proves you have no argument. And while we are back on topic I was just pondering how many chewed dog toys and tennis balls will be strewn about the beach. Lets even equate that all the pet owners responsibly clean up after themselves and think only of the ones that swept away in the surf beyond Fido's reach to later wash ashore of sink? It's definitely another form of pollutant to consideration. MORE is MORE
george gregory March 01, 2012 at 01:33 AM
most dogs go their whole lives without ever swimming or pooping on the beach and they don't seem to mind pelicans can poop on anybody's head and pet giraffes' can poop on most tall men's heads only cars at north beach left in the way of the street smearer arounder get tickets , because people at north beach have malice for clean water and streets,,,, canine fecal matter on the other hand does not have malice but is just plan ass nasty,,,except my coco's
george gregory March 01, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Donna McGuire May 08, 2012 at 08:46 PM
All these what ifs make me ill. Take a look at the dog beaches that are up and down the coast. Are they a mess/polluted? No. Are the cities closing them? no. And I don't know about your dog but my dog has to find "the perfect place to poop", and in the water would be his last choice. This is senseless and San Clemente is ridiculous when it comes to providing for dogs. Every park has two or three baseball fields that are used a couple afternoons a week for 2 or 3 months. A vast waste of recreational real estate. Replacing a couple as decent dog parks would get them used year round, all day. But then baseball is much more important, right?


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