Concerned citizens, dog lovers, scientists and environmental activists descended upon Rancho Palos Verdes city council Tuesday to voice their opinion on a local dog beach. In the end, the council decided to kill a dog beach pilot program because of environmental and financial concerns. The program was approved less than two months ago, but then drew criticism from residents and the Trump National Golf Club.
- Reasons cited:
- “There are a lot of pit bulls and aggressive breeds,” one woman said.
- Another man said that, even when owners clean up after their dogs, they don’t always dispose of it properly. “I’ve seen many dog bags just thrown into the bushes,” said Oliver Hazard, a resident at the meeting. “Or they forget it and it gets washed out to sea. I’ve pulled it out of tide pools.”
- The Trump Golf Club sits just above the beach, and it was firmly against the dog beach pilot program. “Sometimes it’s just a bad perception on our business,” a spokeswoman said. “I mean, we are a golf course. We should not be a gateway to a dog beach” [dog beaches: the gateway drug to golf]
—KTLA.com, Rancho Palos Verdes Muzzles Dog Beach Plan
The council voted 3-1, with Mayor Pro Tem Brian Campbell voting against the motion to rescind, saying he supported restrictions on the operating hours instead. The program was approved on Feb. 21, but news of the proposed dog beach drew throngs of dog owners to the area, which in turn prompted complaints from area residents and businesses, including the Trump National Golf Club.
- Several residents speaking at the meeting said the beach was “out of control.” Heal the Bay and other opponents said the dogs were urinating and defecating in the local tide pools.
- Supporters said the beach was cleaner than it’s ever been, with dog owners anxious to keep the area clean.
- Several speakers blamed the problems on the widespread media attention and social media networks that quickly spread the word about the dog beach.
- A Trump spokeswoman said the club has lost business when guests arrive to find no parking spaces available.
- A March 12 letter from the environmental group Heal the Bay urged the council to put the brakes on the dog beach idea, saying it will be a threat to endangered and threatened bird species and would add “fecal bacteria” that would constitute a public health risk. Residents also chimed in with letters to the city.
- A 300-page report issued earlier this year outlined the pros and cons of allowing either off-leash or on-leash dogs to be on the beach. City laws dating back to 1978 prohibit bringing any animal—on- or off-leash—onto beach property.
- Among the options considered have been a membership or permit system in which dog beach users would have to present proof of vaccinations and licensing for access. Other provisions could restrict the dog beach to certain hours or require a fence to be installed to separate the dog beach.
—Torrance Daily Breeze, Rancho Palos Verdes dog beach nixed
One wonders how the sixty-plus dog beaches in the state of California manage with not a single lawsuit; no police or animal control reports of dog-on-dog or dog-on-human violence; almost entirely superlative water pollution scores, as conducted and publicly published by Heal the Bay (which was, for years under Mark Gold, vehemently opposed to a dog beach in the Los Angeles area despite their own science and other hard data shared with them [odd that people of science, at HTB and the NRDC, aren't swayed at all by science and data collection]); anecdotally good reports of cleanliness, along with periodic volunteer cleanup sweeps as necessary; and the ability of pooled-together private citizens to pay for all upkeep costs through 501(c)3s and the like.
Also odd: that a program that, according the the Ranchos Palos Verdes City Council, was too popular “especially given the apparent pent-up demand for this type of facility in the greater Los Angeles area” does not seem to result in any effort to determine how to alleviate this “pent-up demand” for one-third of the Los Angeles–area households, as it would for, say, volleyball, skateboarding, or anything involving actual children.
Even more especially odd considering the amount of news coverage this got, clearly demonstrating that many, many people are interested in this issue:
- ABC7 News: Rancho Palos Verdes scraps dog-beach program
- 89.3 KPCC: ‘Dog beach’ pilot program is put down (which happens to include DBN’s favorite picture on this issue, of a poodle gazing longingly at two unleashed horses on a beach)
- Manhattan Beach Patch: ABC TV News Reports on RPV Dog Beach (kind of a pathetic but truthful headline about nonjournalism, no?)
- LA Times: Dog Beach muzzled in Rancho Palos Verdes
- Sacramento Bee: Popularity, complaints doom LA County dog beach
- NBC Los Angeles: No Days at the Beach for Dogs in Rancho Palos Verdes
- SF Gate: New dog beach may be doomed because of popularity
And the above citations are merely those caught by DBN’s Internet-wide “dog beach” Google Alert, and further do not include the other publications in which some of the above coverage were syndicated.
Perhaps the copious press derived from the headline pun opportunities: (“put down,” “scraps” [as in "from the table"], “muzzled,” “no days at the beach for dogs”).
In DBN’s view, however, the massive press coverage and community involvement comes from the vastly unmet need for off-leash community recreation for the humans and their dogs residing in the more than one-third of Los Angeles–area households that have at least one dog, up against the passionate, non-data-based objections people without dogs or people with dogs who do not believe in beach play. DBN does not understand the vehement opposition, given the scientifically valid data available (including the fact that, though perhaps not at RPV, there is plenty of beach room to accommodate both dog-lovers and dog-non-lovers alike). We wish that emotions and prejudices and assumptions could be set aside for a fact-based analysis of the issue—one that included the awareness that dog-human households are a giant constituency in our anomalously non-dog-beached California county.