San Clemente is considering permitting dogs on a stretch of the city’s beach for a one-year trial.

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The City Council at its March 16 meeting unanimously asked staff to do further research, specifically reaching out for community feedback about the potential dog beach.

Council member Steve Knoblock agendized consideration of a resolution that proposes sectioning off the stretch of North Beach between the Dije Court stair access and El Portal stair access from the beach trail for the city’s some 16,000 dogs. 

City Clerk Joanne Baade read numerous residents’ concerns that cited a lack of beach space and fear of feces contamination. One resident argued for water quality studies to be conducted before dogs are allowed on the beach, and then a follow-up study after the year trial ends.

Other residents discussed their excitement, advocating for responsible dog owners who clean up after their dogs, opportunities for exercise and the possibility of building community among pet owners. 

Knoblock addressed the fecal bacteria concern saying the beach is accustomed to high bacteria concentrations every time it rains, thus this would be nothing new.

The possibility of dogs on the beach was brought up in the 2018 beaches, parks & recreation plan, but was tabled as staff had to get a broader perspective on the community’s input, said Recreation Manager Samantha Wylie. 

The discussion did not come up again until now.

The one-year test proposal for the dog beach was handed over to the Beaches, Parks and Recreation Commission for further consideration on the impact of bacteria from feces contamination and general community input. 

The council is set to discuss the resolution again at the body’s June 2 meeting. 

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