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Carlsbad Bans Dogs From Beaches, Parks

Times Staff Writer

The dog days of summer have come in January for Carlsbad’s canines.

After listening to many complaints from seaside residents who allege that canine excrement is making the city’s beaches unsightly, the City Council followed the lead of other coastal communities and voted 4-1 Tuesday night to amend an existing dog-control ordinance and ban dogs from Carlsbad’s beaches and parks.

The amendment, sponsored by Councilwoman Ann Kulchin, will become effective June 1. Dogs are now allowed to play on the beaches but must be leashed and accompanied by their owners.

“I was responding to a constituent’s complaint who got tired of seeing people parking their cars and then letting their dogs go free on the beach,” Kulchin said. “And then, when I started looking into the matter, I discovered that, hey, we’re the only city around that allows dogs on the beaches.”

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Although the amendment was officially adopted Tuesday evening, with only Councilman Mark Pettine voting against it, the issue was forwarded to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission for further study.

If the commission decides that the ban should be less stringent, or develops alternative solutions to the problem, such proposals will be introduced to the City Council, and the new ordinance might be amended, Kulchin said. The commission would set the fine if it decides one should be imposed.

Annoyed residents said irresponsible dog owners who failed to clean up after their pets were creating a nuisance and causing unsanitary conditions.

But such a comprehensive ban would be unfair to dog owners who try to keep the beaches clean, said Nancy Koontz, who takes her beagle, Nellie, for a beach stroll every morning.

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Last week, Koontz gave council members a petition signed by nearly 100 dog owners who pledged to comply with a “pooper scooper” ordinance.

“The petition was signed by people who opposed the dog ban ordinance and supported what I call a responsible, dog owners’ ordinance.” Koontz said.

“Instead of having dogs totally banned from beaches, why not have people required to clean up after them?” Koontz asked.

But supporters of the ban refuse to back down and cite the use of tight restrictions at other North County beaches.

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“We’re the only beach in North County, generally speaking, that allows dogs on the beach,” said Don Jackson, who lives a block from the ocean. “Oceanside prohibits to the north, and the state beaches prohibit to the south. So lots of dog owners from other cities come to Carlsbad.

“I see people coming in cars from various places,” Jackson said. “Then, they let their dogs go. The dogs have to relieve themselves, and they usually do it by the pathway or the access. Those areas become quite an obstacle course.”

According to Mike Silvestri, a state lifeguard with the San Diego Coast District, which is responsible for covering 13 miles of North County beaches from Torrey Pines to Carlsbad, most beaches enforce comprehensive bans.

At Carlsbad and South Carlsbad State Beaches and Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas, a ban is in effect, Silvestri said, adding that violations carry a $50 penalty. For second- and third-time offenders, the fine increases to $100 and $200, respectively.

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Kulchin said Oceanside, Solana Beach and Encinitas all forbid dogs from roaming beaches.

The new Carlsbad ordinance, however, does have exceptions. It will only be effective at city beaches. Dogs will still be allowed to play at Carlsbad’s many lagoons, including Batiquitos, Buena Vista Lagoon and Agua Hedionda.

The ordinance does not apply to dogs that help the visually impaired or assist law enforcement agencies.

Dog owners said they will try to persuade parks and recreation commissioners to support alternatives to the ban. And even beach-resident Jackson said he would be open-minded about effective options.

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“Somebody suggested restricting dogs just to the early-morning hours,” said Jackson, who once owned a dachshund and took it for walks along the beach. “Well, the problem with that is the dogs leave, but their leavings don’t.

“But I’m willing to listen to good suggestions. . . . It’s not that I dislike dogs, but, with more people and more dog owners going to the beaches, it’s a problem we have to address.”


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