A proposed pilot program that would allow unleashed dogs to roam on a portion of is drawing scrutiny from , a Santa Monica-based environmental group. The program—which would involve an unspecified area of the beach, down to the waterline—will be considered by the at its meeting on Tuesday night.
"Heal the Bay is uncomfortable with adding new sources of fecal bacteria on beaches that don’t always meet water quality standards for fecal bacteria," Heal the Bay President told Santa Monica Patch. "In other words, why add a new pollution source to a polluted beach? Santa Monica beaches are getting cleaner, but many still aren’t in compliance with water-quality standards, especially from November to April [when ]."
If an off-leash dog beach were to come to fruition in Santa Monica, it would be the second in Los Angeles County, next to Long Beach's Rosie's Dog Beach, according to the Los Angeles Times. Gold said that, while the idea of a dog beach in Santa Monica has been discussed over the past 15 years, he cannot recall the city council considering it prior to a review from the Task Force on the Environment. Gold is the chair of the task force.
"Having kids play in the sand with dog poop is not a hygienic situation. Any parent can attest to the fact that little kids have been known to eat sand," said Gold, adding that he owns three dogs and often takes them to the dog-friendly . "Despite the fact that 95 percent of dog owners are great about cleaning up after their pets, there is always the 5 percent that doesn’t."
If the city council agrees to move forward with the pilot program—which was proposed by Mayor Pro Tempore and City Councilman —it would need to be approved by the state of California, Davis told Santa Monica Patch. Also, the beach and water would be monitored for potential environmental effects.
"The idea is to provide a good test of whether there can be a portion of the beach allowing dogs' use of the beach and address legitimate concerns of water quality, safety and quality of life," O'Day told Santa Monica Patch. "There isn't much data from other communities, so a pilot could go a long way."
Gold said Heal the Bay has been open to a discussing a potential compromise with dog-beach advocates. There could be a fenced-in, off-leash area on the beach, located above the high-tide line (east of the lifeguard towers), he said.
"This approach [would protect] water quality and [eliminate] any harassment of local birds, including snowy plovers," Gold said. "It [would also provide] dogs with a new park for exercise."
Are you concerned about the potential environmental impacts of an off-leash dog beach in Santa Monica? Are you in favor of the idea? Tell us in the comments box below.