. . . here:
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.
—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.
—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:
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.
Los Angeles County recently had a victory for the third of us who are dog owners, formalizing a long-used dog beach as such. The city council had approved a year-long pilot program but are thinking of shutting it down early because, according to DailyBreeze.com, response to the program “appears to be beyond what is appropriate and sustainable for the site, especially given the apparent pent-up demand for this type of facility in the greater Los Angeles area” (emphasis added).
The article continues: “Rangers reported up to 60 people and 35 dogs on the beach in one weekend alone. On average, some 15 people and 15 dogs visit the beach on weekdays. But once the weather warms up, officials believe larger crowds will descend on the 5-acre area. Parking and enforcement issues seem to be the major concerns.”
While it is understandable to be concerned about overuse, how can officials ignore the fact that there is so much “pent-up demand for this type of facility in the greater Los Angeles area”? It seems to us that the clear solution here would be to start by identifying the problem (“pent-up demand”) and defining a solution such as designating a portion of beaches, some little used, along the coast of Los Angeles County as dog beaches, thus speaking to the demand without overtaxing just one small area.
Dogs have been with us for some 10,000 years, and they’re not going anywhere. In urban overcrowding, it’s impossible for dogs to be happy and healthy without places to run around and be dogs off-leash. The third of us who own dogs want access to our natural assets as well and are more than willing to be good neighbors and caretakers of what’s rightfully ours: the beach, in controlled and designated areas.
Other coverage of this issue can be found at LAist.com and InsideSoCal.com (headline: “Too popular? Seems Rancho Palos Verdes Dog Beach is a victim of its own success”). We hope that there are some local officials who are brave enough to see that this is but a small indication of a much-wanted resource for their citizenry.
To consider the premature rescinding of the pilot program, there is a Rancho Palos Verdes City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 3, at 7:00 p.m. at Fred Hesse Community Park, 29301 Hawthorne Blvd., Rancho Palos Verdes.
Come on in to our new online home—we’re glad you came over to check us out! We’ve been moving forward in busy-working-volunteers bits and spurts, with periods of off-time followed by intense activity.
There are currently many movements afoot to establish or protect dog beaches in California and around the country. Political action committees (PACs) are being formed to support the interests of dogs and the people who love them. With this momentum all around us, we believe that now is the moment to move forward in an organized, purposeful fashion to open a small part of the Los Angeles area’s beaches to those of us—37.2 percent of all households nationwide,* which in many communities means that dogs outnumber children—who enjoy outdoor activity with our dogs and who recognize that dogs require off-leash exercise and play to be healthy and well-balanced.
Effective video created to promote support of off-leash recreation for dogs in Northern California.
There are over 60 dog beaches in the state of California; Los Angeles county has only three small patches, at the very far reaches of its 70-mile-plus borders—Long Beach (3 acres), Rancho Palos Verdes (6 acres; currently under consideration), and a small portion of Leo Carrillo State Beach, in Malibu, which requires leashes (the other two are off-leash). This compares very unfavorably to other heavily populated coastal counties in California such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Alameda counties. More real estate is dedicated to volleyball in Los Angeles than to dog recreation—and we know that 37.2 percent of the population do not play volleyball. The Los Angeles city area needs an off-leash dog beach. It’s truly overdue.
Those who speak out against dog beaches frequently will not listen to data that support their safety, cleanliness, and low cost. They refuse to allow pilot programs so dog owners can demonstrate their responsibility. They decline to consider measures and concessions that would address concerns. Frequently they are just naysayers, people who say no because it’s easier than saying yes. And sometimes it’s people who just don’t like dogs.
We have the power and the numbers to overcome this, but we haven’t been adequately activated. Part of the problem is the multitude of jurisdictions on our beaches: state, county, city, and various additional agencies. We haven’t been able to figure out the exact means by which a dog beach would be approved (and it varies among the target beaches). We had been focusing on talking to various public officials in the hopes that they could help us drive this through; we now realize that before such an approach will be useful, we need a path to approval that is legally tenable according to the various operating agreements and bylaws of the various governments and agencies. That is going to be our immediate focus, and we’re fortunate to have pro bono attorneys working with us to help figure that out.
Once we have a tangible path mapped out, we will call on you to help us make it happen. And there will be many ways for you to help. So please—sign up for our mailing list, donate, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Show us—and public officials—how numerous and powerful we are. Let’s get our dogs to the beach!
*According to the American Veterinary Medical Organization’s 2007 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, 37.2 percent of households have at least one dog. There are no Los Angeles–specific dog statistics kept, other than licensing records, and only a small number of Los Angeles dogs are actually licensed.