It’s been a busy few months for 17-year-old La Jolla Country Day School junior Navid Massarat in his quest to establish an off-leash dog beach on the shores north of Scripps Pier.
In September, he launched a petition on change.org that has garnered nearly 500 signatures. In late October, he held a town hall-style forum to gather feedback, which he said was “enlightening.” Now, he is working with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and the office of District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry to determine if the location is still a possibility or if he needs to find another. He is also planning a second town hall forum for late December or early January.
Questions that have come up, which Navid is investigating, include if Scripps owns the beach and whether a dog’s presence would interfere with marine research projects. The waters off the beach are a Marine Protected Area, which means there’s no taking of any living or non-living marine resource. It’s also classified as an Area of Special Biological Significance.
“I wanted to bring hard research that explained the impact of a dog’s presence on a beach, but that’s been difficult,” he said. “There isn’t a lot of research on the topic. Scripps does a lot of marine research in this area and is trying to protect the habitats there. The ocean water is used at Birch Aquarium and in the tanks for their research animals, but is heavily filtered. There are filters for runoff going into the ocean and filters for water going into the aquarium.
“My questions are: why are people allowed there and why is the area used by surfers? None of us want to negatively affect what’s already there or negatively impact the research being done there. But people are already in the water, so how would a dog’s presence affect all this?”
Navid said he is working with Scripps and City offices to discover more information. Once it’s all compiled, he will proceed to hosting more community presentations.
“I want to get all my ducks in a row regarding the specifics and from there, approach (applicable) community advisory groups, so they can advise the City Council,” he said. “I want to be prepared to answer any questions that come up … but I also want to have small group sessions, so as a community, we can come to a compromise together and foster discussion before we move on.”
Should it be determined Scripps owns the land and would not permit the dog beach, Navid said another location would be pursued. “But even if we have to change locations, this isn’t starting completely over. We’ve identified precautions that would need to be in effect to make it a safe and sustainable dog beach,” he said.
Find updates at change.org/p/la-jolla-shores-dog-beach