State Assemblyman Mike Gordon has introduced a bill in the State Legislature to launch a pilot program to allow unleashed dogs on a one-mile stretch of sand at Dockweiler State Beach adjacent to the Hyperion Treatment Plant in the southern portion of the Playa del Rey beach.
The proposal was immediately opposed by Supervisor Don Knabe and the County Department of Beaches and Harbors officials — who questioned the health and safety of putting a dog park “in the middle of a bicycle path” and adjacent to a site where the county plans a major youth activities center.
DOG PARK SUPPORT — “There would be no start-up costs for the pilot program,” said Janelle Beland, a Gordon spokeswoman.
The bill will not be assigned to a State Assembly committee until Monday, March 7th, 30 days after it was introduced, according to Beland.
Gordon — who has two dogs, a golden retriever and a pug —launched a dog park in El Segundo when he was mayor of that city.
Beland says that Venice-based dog-owner group Freeplay has said that it would supply the funding for an off-leash beach zone on the beach.
Daryl Barnett, founder of Freeplay, says that the only costs would be for signage, extra trash cans and bags for dog waste.
“Somebody has already agreed to make the signs,” says Barnett.
Barnett says there are 1,500 members of the Freeplay group.
She says she is very hopeful that Gordon’s bill will be approved.
“I am 110 percent certain” it will pass, she said. “We have worked ten years for this and I think it’s about time.”
Barnett says that the arguments against a dog beach — such as cost of maintenance and pollution — don’t hold water.
She says of the 60 dog beaches in California, the quality of ocean water is at a good rating and that dog beaches have shown that they bring in revenue.
STRONG OPPOSITION — County Beaches and Harbors Department spokeswoman Dusty Crane listed several reasons the county is opposing the beach dog park.
“First of all, Dockweiler Beach is a state beach and State Parks (Department) prohibits off-leash dogs” on the beach, Crane said. “Another issue is health and safety.
“Dogs do what dogs do and although responsible dog owners clean up after their dogs, picking up feces, they can’t pick up urine.”
“Urine is what we are talking about,” she emphasized. “We also have a bike path that goes right through that part of the beach.
“Dogs like to chase bikes and there would be lots of accidents.”
“Our lifeguards are dead set against it,” Crane said of the proposed beach dog park.
“We have no way to block off that area,” Crane warned. “The site is the site where we will build our youth center. We will have many children playing in the sand there.”
Crane said a beach dog park is not the kind of activity that will help water quality in the area.
“We don’t think mixing these two activities (dogs and youth activities) is good,” Crane said.
Supervisor Don Knabe chided Gordon for introducing the state legislation without informing county officials.
“It would have been nice if he had given us a heads-up on this,” the supervisor said.
Knabe said he has received strong opposition from county lifeguards about bringing off-leash dogs onto the beach.
“I’m right there with them,” the supervisor said.
“It continues to be a safety issue and a health issue,” Knabe said.
Crane said county officials had checked with other jurisdictions that allowed unleashed dogs on the beach and there are “all sorts of problems.”