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Rancho Palos Verdes Council rescinds Dog Beach

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Dogs frolic at the beach below Trumps National Golf Club. Photo by David Rosenfeld

A little more than a month after the Rancho Palos Verdes city council approved a one-year pilot program for an off-leash dog beach below Trump National Golf Club, council members returned to the issue Tuesday night with their proverbial tails between their legs.

The council made an about-face and voted 3-to-1 to make the beach officially illegal to canine companions as it had been for more than 35 years despite the beach being used as an unofficial dog beach during much of that time.

Councilman Brian Campbell represented the only ‘no’ vote on Tuesday, while councilman Jerry Duhovich was forced to recuse himself because he lives near the beach.

The original vote on Feb. 21 to approve the pilot program passed 4-to-1 with Duhovich voting at that time. Since then, the city reportedly received a great deal of complaints about large crowds and possible adverse environmental effects.

“Due to the wide-spread media attention received and the general lack of dog beaches in Los Angeles County, activity at RPV Beach has increased significantly,” according to a staff report.

Lili Amini, general manager of Trump National Golf Club, reiterated her organization’s continued opposition to the dog beach, saying it reflects badly on business. Excessive crowds have filled up the public parking lot adjacent to the club during the weekend, she said, causing some patrons to think the club was full. Off-leash dogs also occasionally run onto the course, she said.

“We’re a golf course,” Amini said. “We should not be a gateway to a dog beach.”

The California Coastal Commission had required that it provide a public parking lot with public access to the beach below the course.

Residents who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting were mostly in favor of rescinding the pilot program, although as the case in February, vastly different images of the dog beach were portrayed.

Advocates said the beach has never been cleaner, while those opposed largely testified to the large crowds and unruly canines. Some said dogs routinely trample fragile tide pools.

Amanda Griesbach with Heal the Bay urged the council to postpone the dog beach until an environmental impact statement could be performed. She recommended dogs not be allowed in the water and that any dog beach be fenced off.

“It’s critical the city adopt monitoring locations at the beach in order to establish a baseline of fecal bacterial,” Griesbach told the council.

Doran Richart asked the council to give the dog beach a chance.

“Probably the recent problems are because you’ve been publicizing it so much,” Richart said. “The novelty will wear off. There’s just been insufficient time to see what its use will be.”

Ken Dyda, former mayor and co-founder of RPV in the 1970s, said rescinding the dog beach was the right thing to do based on the city’s charter.

“Nowhere in that document does it say we need to provide things for agencies and cities that are not willing to do the same,” Dyda said. “I urge you right now to stop being scofflaws and enforce the laws you have on the beach. Otherwise they are worthless.”

Although the beach had always been illegal for dogs despite its use an unofficial dog beach, now that the beach has been the focus of so much media attention, park rangers are likely to have more of a presence in warning and citing potential violators.

In rejecting the dog beach, council members expressed optimism that an off-leash dog park could be created at the site of the former Palos Verdes landfill, which is owned by Los Angeles County. They hope to soon jumpstart discussions with LA County Supervisor Don Knabe regarding this possibility.

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