April 24, 2011 Leave a comment
IB Dog Beach Trial Period Proposed
The City Council votes to move forward with a leash-free dog beach between Palm Avenue and Carnation Avenue.
After lengthy discussion and a little trepidation, Imperial Beach is moving toward a trial leash-free dog beach between Palm Avenue and Carnation Avenue.
But do not take the leash off the dog yet.
On Wednesday, in a three-to-one vote, the City Council directed staff to begin procedures to implement a 180-day trial period. Councilman Edward Spriggs abstained, citing a conflict of interest.
Based on public feedback, a location north of Palm Avenue received majority support and was found to be the most logical site, according to City Manager Gary Brown. Two jetties leave clear demarcation for dogs and people.
Brown said that a dog beach had little likelihood of success because the proposed trial area is controlled by the Navy and Coronado, and other potential areas south of Palm Avenue are in contention with residents and the estuary.
Doug Clark, interim assistant city manager, said the public should not expect immediate results. Allowing dogs to be off-leash for the proposed test requires an amendment to the city’s municipal code, according to Clark.
With the Port of San Diego leasing part of the proposed area and possible environmental issues at the end of Palm Avenue, the city must notify, and await input from, the port and other impacted agencies before a trial leash-free beach can begin.
“I do not yet have an estimate of the time needed to draft and notice this ordinance,” said Clark. “In the meantime, dogs may not be off-leash.”
Port Commissioner Dan Malcolm said the port and Imperial Beach city staff have been in frequent discussions in support of a leash-free dog beach.
“Ultimately, I hope we can make it happen,” said Malcolm.
Jessica Dykes, president of IB Yappy, which has been instrumental in researching potential dog run locations, said, “Our main beach choice was between Carnation and Palm after we had done our research. We would also like to do research for an actual park, a safer area.”
Dykes said IB Yappy had been observing an area at Veterans Park away from the playground, mostly used by dog walkers. “Speaking with residents in the area is the next step,” said Dykes.
While IB Yappy is researching park ideas, Mayor Jim Janney said the city staff’s report concerned only recommendations for beach areas, not parks.
Councilman Jim King said due to problematic issues with several of the beach proposals, he said using a test area between Palm and Carnation is the best approach.
“I thought we were looking at other suggestions, such as Veterans Park,” said King. “It deserves consideration. With the trial, we can measure what the implications are.”
Janney said he has questions about Veterans Park, however the idea deserves discussion. The city has only one park of any size, and to designate a specific spot just for animals is taking quite a bit away.
Councilwoman Lorie Bragg said she would not support a leash-free beach in a highly populated area during the summer, and she supported city staff looking at off-beach locations.
“There seems to be the possibility of problems with many innocent bystanders,” she said. “If an area is enclosed, it is different, but I have to be honest and say fencing in more of Veterans Park does not appeal to me at all.”
King said the issue deserved a trial period, and that he had never heard people complain of unleased dogs on the beach. “Dogs off leash are a little mellower than they are on leash in my opinion.”
Spriggs abstained from participating in the vote as several options proposed impact his residence, but spoke up as a resident, citing concern over dogs being on highly used areas of beach.
“I’d say generally nine out of 10 dogs out on that beach are unleashed, even when they are supposed to be,” said Spriggs. “Generally owners do not pick up after their dogs, let them run freely and do what they want. It is the residents that will be impacted.”
Brown said staff would take the consideration and work as quickly as possible to get a trial started for leash-free dog beach, working with the port.
The motion was carried by Janney, Brian Bilbray and King. Bragg voted “no,” and Spriggs abstained.
If the trial period proceeds, then upon closing “it has to be clear that you can say the trial is no good, take the signs down and stop the leash-free site,” said Brown.
Bilbray said there are other options such as the unused plot on 10th and Iris, just south of Oneonta Elementary. “I would like to see us at least try and make something work,” said Bilbray.