Faced with fears of overwhelming popularity and concern for residents and local businesses, Rancho Palos Verdes City Council members Tuesday night voted to rescind a dog beach pilot program at Rancho Palos Verdes Beach.
The decision came after about 30 people, mostly Peninsula residents, spoke out both for and against the dog beach, which has long been used as an unofficial off-leash dog beach despite city ordinances that prohibit dogs on beaches and golf courses within the city.
Former councilman and mayor Steve Wolowitz voiced his support for a council decision to rescind toward a dog beach pilot program taken during a February meeting.
He cited an "intimidation factor" presented by some animals, possible dangerous encounters between dogs and children, and the responsibility of the city to step in when "interests of a limited group conflict with the public at large."
"Nice idea, wrong beach," he said.
Debates about a possible dog beach have pointed to a "drastic need" to give Peninsula residents a place to exercise their dogs, Bruce Megowan said during Tuesday's meeting.
"It would be nice if we had a place,” he said.
Speakers from Heal the Bay and also took turns at the podium. Business has been negatively affected at the golf course since the council's February decision, including scarce parking for patrons and loose dogs on the course, the Trump representative said. Heal the Bay expressed environmental concerns, including the limited amount of time between now and the program's formerly proposed October start date to set a baseline for water quality at the beach.
"We created a circus," one speaker said in the packed room at , filled with media and concerned audience members.
Set to become only the third legal dog beach in Los Angeles County, popularity for the spot quickly escalated once word spread that Rancho Palos Verdes was planning on vetting a dog beach in the area.
This attention raised concern among some council members, including Councilwoman Susan Brooks, who compared a photo of crowds at the dog beach on a day in early March to Woodstock, or "something from the 70s."
"Frankly, it was like Woodstock for dogs," she said. "This is not the space, not the place."
Councilman Brian Campbell said it was too soon to decide the program couldn't work, and suggested "significant restrictions" on the usage of the beach.
"I think it’s a little too soon to completely abandon it," he said.
Conversations surrounding potential plans for the dog beach "got out of control quicker than I expected," Councilman Jim Knight said. City ordinances prohibit dogs and other animals on beaches, he said, which makes it difficult to allow dogs and not horses, for example.
"I don’t think this is the right location for this particular land use proposal," he said.
Both Brooks and Mayor Anthony Misetich expressed support for a dog park at the former Palos Verdes Landfill, calling on a "joint project with other cities."
"I feel for the dog owners," Misetich said. "I know you want to have a place to take your animals."