Third- to fifth-grade students from Los Angeles County line up for a walk… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )
Plans for designating a dog beach in Santa Monica were dashed this week when city staff said opposition from the state all but guaranteed there was "no chance" of opening what would be L.A. County's second canine-friendly stretch of seashore.
The City Council, urged on by the advocacy group Unleash the Beach, voted last month to work with the state to establish a pilot off-leash dog zone in Santa Monica.
But in a meeting between Santa Monica city staffers and representatives of California State Parks, which owns Santa Monica State Beach, "it was made clear that there was no chance for a pilot program to move forward at this time," according to a memo by Barbara Stinchfield, the city's community and cultural services director.
California law prohibits unleashed dogs on state beaches without an order from a state parks superintendent. The agency remains firmly opposed to relaxing the rules anywhere in the state, citing risks that dogs would pose to threatened species, habitat, beach-goers and other dogs.
The state also has raised concerns about the health and environmental effects of dog droppings.
Water-quality groups also oppose a dog beach that extends into the surf, saying dog feces would pollute beach water and sand and sicken swimmers.
"Santa Monica taxpayers have spent millions of dollars cleaning up local beaches (over $2.5 million on the successful Santa Monica Pier cleanup alone)," Heal the Bay President Mark Gold, a dog owner, wrote on his blog.
"Adding a new source of fecal bacteria to our local beaches doesn't make any sense in these financially challenging times," he wrote.
The idea of a trial dog beach in Santa Monica is one of several by Los Angeles-area groups that have argued there should be more space on the sand for dogs.
Rosie's Dog Beach, a 3-acre zone in Long Beach, is the only place along the county's 75-mile coastline where canines can legally run off-leash.