Solana Beach to allow dogs on sections of its beaches

By Kristina Houck

Man’s best friend will soon have access to some of Solana Beach’s sandy shores, but not the sand at Fletcher Cove.

The City Council voted unanimously on May 28 to allow leashed dogs on the beaches north of Tide Park and south of Del Mar Shores. Citing safety concerns, council members decided to exclude dogs from the city’s main beach, Fletcher Cove.

Mayor Tom Campbell said he was scared of dogs when he was a child, so he understands there are other people who may also be fearful of dogs.

“Public safety is a major concern to me,” he said.

Although a dog owner now, Councilman David Zito said his oldest daughter was also terrified of dogs when she was a young child.

“If there wasn’t an option to go to a beach in which dogs weren’t allowed, we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy a beach,” he said.

Although leashed dogs are permitted at Fletcher Cove Park to the top of the beach access ramp, the city has long prohibited dogs on its coastline. At the request of some dog owners, the council authorized an environmental study last July to determine whether rules should change.

The study presented during the meeting concluded that the water quality would not be significantly impacted as long as waste was disposed of properly.

“With one exception, beaches that allow dogs in Southern California receive estimates nearing grades A or A+,” said Barbara Heyman, associate principal of PlaceWorks, the planning, design and environmental firm that compiled the report.

Dogs are already permitted on neighboring beaches. Leashed dogs are allowed at Cardiff State Beach. Del Mar also allows leashed dogs on much of its beaches year-round and allows unleashed dogs north of 29th Street from the day after Labor Day until June 15.

Solana Beach Lifeguard Capt. Craig Miller told the council that lifeguards had to talk with dog owners who illegally brought their pooches to city beaches roughly 2,000 times last year.

During the meeting, six people spoke in favor of allowing dogs on the beach, while three others spoke against dogs on the sand.

“I love Solana Beach,” said Steve Ostrow, who has lived in the community for 24 years. “As a citizen, I ask that I be able to enjoy the beach and the ability to walk with my dog from Cardiff to Del Mar. It’s a beautiful experience … that I wish to enjoy.”

“Our beach in Solana Beach is beautiful; it’s pristine,” said resident Ellie Eigen. “What about a people beach? Dog owners can go a half-mile north; they can go a half-mile south and walk their dogs. Leave well enough alone.”

In a compromise, the council agreed to allow leashed dogs on the beaches north of Tide Park and south of Del Mar Shores, but not on Fletcher Cove. A second reading of the ordinance will be held in June before it takes effect.

According to the ordinance, dogs must be on a leash at all times and leashes must be no longer than 6 feet. Owners are also required to pick up after their dogs.

City officials will review the law in one year.

“We respectfully ask for everyone to follow the rules and try to do the best that they can so that we can have this be something that everyone can enjoy in the future, and we’ll also have areas in the middle that non-dog people can enjoy,” Councilman Mike Nichols said. “I think it’s a good compromise.”