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Santa Monica dog beach plans are dead, officials say

November 18, 2011 | 12:37 pm

Plans for designating a second Los Angeles County dog beach in Santa Monica are dead
Plans for designating a second Los Angeles County dog beach in Santa Monica were dashed this week when city staff said that opposition from the state guaranteed that there was "no chance" of the proposal moving forward.

The City Council, urged on by an advocacy group called Unleash the Beach, voted last month to work with the state to establish a pilot off-leash dog zone at the beach.

In a meeting between Santa Monica city staffers and representatives of California State Parks, which owns Santa Monica State Beach, "it was made clear that there was no chance for a pilot program to move forward at this time," according to a memo by Community and Cultural Services Director Barbara Stinchfield.

INTERACTIVE: Guide to Southern California's off-leash dog beaches

California law prohibits unleashed dogs on state beaches without an order from a State Parks superintendent. The agency remains firmly opposed to relaxing the rules anywhere in the state, citing risks that dogs would pose to threatened species, habitat, beach-goers and other dogs. The state also has raised concerns about the health and environmental effects of dog droppings.

Water-quality groups also oppose a dog beach that extends into the surf, saying dog feces would pollute beach water and sand and sicken swimmers.

"Santa Monica taxpayers have spent millions of dollars cleaning up local beaches (over $2.5 million on the successful Santa Monica Pier cleanup alone)," Heal the Bay President and dog owner Mark Gold wrote on his blog, "so adding a new source of fecal bacteria to our local beaches doesn't make any sense in these financially challenging times."

The idea of a trial dog beach in Santa Monica is one of several by Los Angeles-area groups that have argued there should be more space on the sand for dogs.

Rosie's Dog Beach, a three-acre zone in Long Beach, is the only place along the county's 75-mile coastline where canines can legally run off-leash.


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-- Tony Barboza

Photo: Chester stands on his hind legs to catch a ball at Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach. Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times