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A popular Rancho Palos Verdes beach for dog owners and their pets was close to getting the city's support, but an upcoming vote may change that. NBC4's Annette Arreola reports.
Just a few weeks after moving forward with plans to allow canines on a strip of sand that had long been an unofficial dog beach, the city of Rancho Palos Verdes reversed course.
[UPDATE: Wednesday, 6:24 a.m.] Council members voted Tuesday night against the pilot program. The council voted 3-1 against the program.
Tuesday night, the City Council considered a staff recommendation to end a planned pilot program that would have permitted dogs in an area known as Trump Beach, just below Trump National Golf Club.
Why? It’s just become too popular, even though the program hadn’t even officially begun and dogs are not currently allowed at the beach.
A one-mile strip of sand down a steep trail below Trump National Golf Club had for years been an illicit site where dog owners frolicked with their pets. The property had been owned by the golf course until last year, when it was transferred to the city and named Rancho Palos Verdes Beach.
On Feb. 21, the City Council had voted to create a temporary program regulating canines at the beach. After an environmental review, the program would have begun some time in fall, lasting until the following fall in 2013.
But the February vote on the pilot dog-beach program drew so much attention that crowds descended on the area despite a series of fairly chilly weekends, according to a city report. Only two other beaches in Los Angeles County – in Malibu and Long Beach -- allow dogs, so demand was high.
“This has caused chaos for … a lot of people,” wrote Lili Amini, General Manager of Trump National Golf Club, in a letter to the city.
It’s just too much, city staff said in a report.
The new dog beach policy “appears to be beyond what is appropriate and sustainable for the site, especially given the apparent pent-up demand for this type of facility in the greater Los Angeles area,” according to the report (PDF).
The city doesn’t have enough resources to support a program that only benefits a “specific user group,” the report said.
City staffers recommended that the City Council rescind its previous vote, meaning dogs will continue to be illegal at Rancho Palos Verdes Beach.
Trump National Golf Club strongly opposes the dog beach, Amini said in her letter, which detailed a series of complaints and a “circus-like atmosphere” at the beach.
Dozens of city residents also wrote letters and emails (PDF) to the city complaining about the dog beach. Officials with Heal the Bay, the Santa Monica-based environmental advocacy group, opposed the pilot program because of water quality concerns, they said in a letter.
Still, dog owners are bound to be bummed if the beach becomes off-limits to their pets. Many of them turned out at the February meeting in support of the dog park, a city official said.
And an anonymous dog owner told the Daily Breeze that it wasn’t fair to judge the dog beach so soon.
“This is a typical response to something new," the dog owner wrote in an email to the Daily Breeze. "It will die down, especially when people realize the amount of time and effort to get to this location. ... The result should not be judged by the first two weekends out of the box. People are excited and will get over the thrill shortly."
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