Mayor Diane Dixon and the Newport Beach City Council are scheduled Tuesday to take up the issue of enforcement of the leash law on "Dog Beach," which is essentially the tiny strip of county land where the Santa Ana River meets the Pacific Ocean on the north side of the breakwater.
This area has been known to the locals as Dog Beach for at least the 30 years I have lived in West Newport. Owned by the county, it is an area where you can take your dog and let him chase a ball in the water and swim off-leash.
One proposal is to use city taxpayer money to patrol and enforce the leash law on county land — in other words to take away a no-cost benefit for the many and use taxpayer money to meet the demands of a few.
There has been a non-scientific survey conducted by the city's own Facebook page that clearly shows an overwhelming number of citizens are quite happy with the status quo. Last time I looked, it was 2,000-plus for leaving the beach as is, and 27 for enforcing the leash law. Another petition in circulation has more than 3,000 signatures requesting Dog Beach be left as is.
Similar to the recent fire pit issue, where a few local residents were unhappy with people making noise, parking and on their way to the beach tried to make the issue about health.
The red herring this time around is the possibility of dog waste washing into the ocean — a bit laughable as the Santa Ana River dumps effluent from hundreds of miles of drainage and the flow from the Orange County sewage treatment plant goes out there as well.
If we continue down this path of trying to cater to the privileged few, what's next? Well, surf fishermen make a lot of noise going to the beach early in the morning and late in the evening. They are a danger casting those hooks; perhaps we should outlaw surf fishing. And surfers, they are a menace to local residents, parking noisily while wetsuit changing early morning, leaving burrito wrappers in the gutters.
Maybe we should just blackball Newport Beach 24/7.
While it is somewhat understandable that Mayor Dixon, being new to the area and with few ties to the beach community, would see a few dogs running free as a huge problem, most of the residents of West Newport see it as a benefit. I would hope and expect a more reasonable approach from the balance of the City Council.
I urge the mayor and council to let this sleeping dog lay. Let's not try to fix what isn't broken. There are enough real problems facing this city stemming from the rampant development track we are currently on, which is increasing crime and traffic while causing water shortages, etc., where they could be spending their valuable time.
GARY REASONER lives in West Newport.