Mark McDermott

Redondo City Council: no dogs at Czuleger Park

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redondo beach city logoA dog liberation movement within the city has been stifled, at least temporarily.

A group of residents who petitioned the city to relax its prohibition on dogs in parks by allowing leashed dogs in Czuleger Park were denied by the City Council in a 3-2 vote Tuesday night.

The vote supported a staff recommendation against opening up the 3.3 acre park, located between Catalina Avenue and the pier, to dog-walking. Recreational and Community Services director Mike Witzansky said the city could not afford increased enforcement and maintenance costs.

“Now would not be the ideal time to expand services for dogs in our community,” Witzansky said.

A staff report indicated that the current prohibition against dogs in city parks, enacted in 1979, makes enforcement efficient and maintaining green parks easier. It noted that the city established a 3-acre dog park in Dominguez Park in 1993.

Councilman Matt Kilroy said relaxing the prohibition would only complicate matters.

“I own a dog,” Kilroy said. “I have a back yard….I don’t see the point. If all they are doing is walking dogs on a leash, walk down Catalina Avenue. I just don’t see why we need to make things confusing, to start opening up that door to having dogs in parks.”

Councilman Pat Aust said that there is already enough of a problem with dogs defecating in city parks despite the prohibition.  

“Anything we do to confuse the issue only makes it worse for the rest of the city,” Aust said.

Councilman Bill Brand, whose district includes Czulger Park, said that a majority of residents are in favor of allowing dogs in the park. He said the city should be able to find a way to respond to those wishes that is neither expensive nor complicated.

“All the other cities in the South Bay allow dogs in parks,” Brand said. “This is a very unusual situation, where the city doesn’t allow dogs in the parks….Frankly, if we don’t do it, there will be a lot of angry residents down there. They are really going to wonder what we are doing up here if we won’t simply allow them to walk their dogs through a park, on a leash.”

Sydnee Singer, a local attorney who was behind the petition movement, was one such resident. She took exception to the council’s characterizations of dog owners.

 “We obviously don’t pick up poop, according to the councilman, and obviously do not obey laws,” Singer said. “And we obviously sign petitions for no reason at all.”

Singer questioned why enforcement costs would increase when police already monitor the park. She suggested that the council needed to be responsive to the many residents who do not have backyards and don’t want to have to drive to the dog park.

“We don’t have any place to walk them and, to me, walking them on the grass makes a big difference, instead of on the pavement,” she said.

Aspel said the council was being responsive not just to dog owners but to the rest of the city.

“This is not the Village Condominiums’ private domain,” he said. “It belongs to the entire city. I know you don’t have a backyard, but we answer to everybody. And it’s not my problem you don’t have a backyard.”

Enforcement, he noted, would be labor intensive because officers would have to nab dogs in the act of defecation in order to issue a ticket.

“The cops are not out there looking for scofflaw dog poopers,” Aspel said. “It’s going to be impossible. Our police have better things to do than chase down dogs pooping in a park.”

The council also rejected a recommendation by the Parks and Recreation Commission that the city allow dogs in Czulger Park for a 90 day trial period.

Singer said afterwards that she now intends to create a ballot measure to overturn the citywide prohibition against dogs in parks.

“It will be all parks,” she said. “It will overturn the ordinance.” ER

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