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Country Day student seeks La Jolla Shores dog beach

A La Jolla Country Day School student would like to convert a section of a La Jolla Shores beach into an off-leash dog beach and is drafting a petition he hopes will ultimately land on District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s desk for consideration.

17-year-old junior Navid Massarat proposes the area north of Scripps Pier for the dog beach.

Other San Diego dog beaches include ones on Fiesta Island (15 minutes away) and Ocean Beach (25 minutes away), as well as Del Mar (15-30 minutes away, based on traffic). There are also dog parks at the base of Soledad Mountain Road and at Doyle Park.

“The idea started two or three years ago, the first time I visited the dog beach in Del Mar,” Navid explained. “My dog, Lexus, is really hyper, and letting her swim is the fastest and easiest way for her to exercise and to tire her out. When I went to the dog beach, I also realized it was a fun way for her and I to spend time together and bond. I had fun, I got to swim. I invited friends to bring their dogs.

“The problem is that I live here in La Jolla and the only time you can bring your dog to La Jolla Shores is between 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. November to March, and 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. April to October. A dog must be leashed at all other times. So there isn’t a time you can bring your dog to your local beaches. From there, I realized a dog beach could be a great improvement to the community.”

To determine the issues that could come with a dog beach and address them in his proposal, Navid reached out to Del Mar lifeguards. Among the concerns he discovered are the “rare” instances of a dog biting a person, environmental impacts, and owners not cleaning up after their dogs.

The answer to most of these, Navid thinks, is location. “Lifeguards said dogs biting or bothering people was generally rare and it would be nothing out of the ordinary to get law enforcement if the situation was out of hand,” he said. “One of the aspects my petition would consider would be to limit the beach to north of Scripps Pier. That negates one of the big concerns of dogs running over tourists or getting in the way of other beach activities. It’s closed off. To the north, you have rocks that you can’t cross when the tide comes in. To the south is the Pier, so this would limit the dogs to this one area and the dogs won’t interfere with beach-goers.”

He added that other than picking up the dog’s waste, lifeguards said there are no environmental impacts.

“I wouldn’t want to speak for other dog owners, but the dog beaches are rare and special. If you look at Del Mar and Fiesta Island, they are clean because dog owners pick up after their dogs. They do not want to lose that special place to take their dog,” he said.

In 2014, a similar proposal for off-leash hours on the beach was introduced, but for Marine Street Beach. Facing backlash over several community hearings, the proposal was withdrawn. But Navid said he hopes his proposal, which may make the rounds at community planning groups, will be more successful.

“I want to draft my petition, make it public and get enough signatures on it to take this to the San Diego City Council and Council member Barbara Bry,” he said. “In researching this idea and looking at how the laws would have to change, I found out the dog beaches that exist were made dog beaches by the City, so I’m hoping that’s where this will go.”

Navid can be reached through his school advisor at jshulman@ljcds.org

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