San Clemente News Flash: Dogs to be allowed in 10 more San Clemente Parks.
SAN CLEMENTE — The city’s elected leaders decided Tuesday night to make 2013 the year when, for the first time, dogs will be welcome in most of the city’s 21 parks, plus the lawn of the Community Center.
The City Council’s 5-0 vote to open 10 more parks to leashed dogs drew howls of protest from some residents who fear it will make dog droppings more widespread in public places.
The decision drew applause from dog owners who said the newfound freedom will breed responsible behavior and peer pressure that will result in less dog waste being left in those parks than in parks where dogs are banned.
The council extended the welcome only to licensed dogs, and they must be leashed. They can’t venture into playgrounds, and owners will be subject to fines of $100 or more if they leave dog droppings behind.
WHAT IT MEANS
Dogs won’t be allowed in the additional parks right away. The city first will spend $3,500 on signs, and it will take time to post the signs in the affected areas.
Currently, pooches can frolic on leash at two city parks — Mira Costa and Verde — and off leash at San Clemente’s dog park. San Clemente once banned dogs in all its parks.
Local resident C.L. “Curly” Snider said he sees “a lot of dog poo” while walking the beach trail, even though the city provides plastic bag dispensers there for pet owners.
“I don’t think the rest of the citizens should have to pay for dog-poop bags for these people that don’t pick up,” Snider said. He suggested testing five parks instead of 10.
Gregg Lipanovich, whose group San Clemente Dog Lovers campaigned in 2001 to open more parks to dogs, said the city’s two-year test case beginning in 2002 demonstrated that once Mira Costa Park, Verde Park and Calafia Beach Park — then a city facility, now operated by the state — were opened to dogs, there was less pet waste than at other parks. Lipanovich said he was astonished that the city didn’t declare the experiment a success in 2004 and open more parks to leashed dogs.
Don Slater, founder of Friends of San Clemente Dog Beach, which last year campaigned unsuccessfully for a dog beach, said dog owners believe San Clemente isn’t dog-friendly and that restrictions are unfair. That feeling may contribute to the dog waste seen around town, he said.
“I think you can appeal to the better part of people, and by giving them something to use, then they’ll care more,” Slater said. “A large percentage of people in this town own dogs.”
Hugh Limebrook complained that Calafia Beach Park has a severe problem with dogs off leash and droppings that end up in the ocean. “When we have runoff, it’s horrible,” he said. He said he doubts the city will be able to police the areas opened to dogs.
“It’s a small minority of dog owners who are basically ruining it for all of us,” said Brenda Miller, who told how she and friends pick up after other dog owners. She said she looks forward to being able to sit at a Pier Bowl bench watching the sunset “with Foxy by my side. There couldn’t be any greater joy in my mind.”
Councilwoman Lori Donchak said opening more areas will lead to a healthier San Clemente by getting pet owners out of the house with their dogs. Hopefully it will get more people licensing their dogs, she added.
In Phase 2 of the dog-access expansion, city staff will consider which parks are suitable for fenced “dog runs.”
I am excited about this city council vote. My dogs are very active and to have new scenery and access to more parks without being cited is a good thing! Thanks City Council! I promise to pick up the poop. Bags are nice, but I will even bring my own bag if needed!!
See you at the beach!!
- Dogs to be allowed in 10 more San Clemente parks (ocregister.com)