In a plan that's been in the works for about a year, the San Clemente City Council Tuesday approved allowing licensed dogs on leashes in 10 city parks.
Council members wanted to couple the new measures with increased outreach efforts to get local dogs licensed and public service announcements about picking up dog waste.
Councilman Tim Brown called the move a "no brainer." He said he opposed earlier efforts to institute dog access on areas of beach because the city's growing population would continue to put strain on them.
"I believe our beaches are a finite resource and they are becoming increasingly taxed," he said.
Beaches, Parks and Recreation Director Sharon Heider said staffers chose the parks outlined in the report because they represented about half the city's park system, they were scattered more or less evenly throughout the city and they didn't have heavy organized sports uses.
She said it would still be illegal for dogs to be in the playground areas, even though they're allowed on green space in the parks.
Dog owners lobbied city government all last year -- the ultimate goal being to get a beach designated for use by pooches. The City Council stopped short of letting dogs on the beach, but told staffers to come up with a plan for more park access and more dog runs in parks, which they adopted with little modification.
Several advocates came to speak in support of the increased access, including Don and Miriam Slater, who founded the Friends of San Clemente Dog Beach group.
Two residents spoke against the plan.
"I live on what they call the Loop at Montalvo and Lobiero near the state park," he said. "In the state parks, they allow dogs on leashes," said Hugh Limebrook. "I know there's a severe problem with dog feces, which has created a problem with runoff."
The measure includes increased fines to $100 for leaving dog feces lying on the ground.
The following are a list of parks approved for dog access:
- Bonito Canyon Bicentennial Park
- Leslie Park
- Linda Lane
- Max Berg Plaza
- Marblehead Inland
- Mira Costa (dogs currently allowed)
- Parque Del Mar (minus Park Semper Fi)
- Rancho San Clemente
- San Luis Rey
- Talega Park
- Verde Park (dogs currently allowed)