After two hours of contentious debate the Santa Cruz County Parks and Recreation Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisor study setting aside times for dogs to be off leashes on the beaches between 20th Ave and Moran Lake year round from sunrise to 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
They also forwarded a proposal for fenced in dog areas. The County's Board of Supervisors will weigh the recommendations later in the year. The reports are due in April.
“Dog walking has saved my life," said David M. Silva, Santa Cruz resident since 1989. “We need to have leash free parks and beaches, no more debating-our proposal needs to be taken seriously, and I feel the commission isn’t taking it seriously.”
However, there were plenty of people against the proposal, including environmentalist Jean Brocklebank.
"The county is not in the business of suspending public safety laws," she said in an interview after the meeting. "We seem to have a sense of entitlement. We get whatever we want with no regard for the safety of others.”
LOOLA spokesperson Ted Coopman supported off-leash times.
“If nothing was an option, don’t you think we would have stuck with that. We will not be treated like a bunch of 3rd graders with a pat on the back and told to go away.”
Members of LOOLA have spent countless hours lobbying for support of their petition. LOOLA isn’t alone in their support of off-leash beaches. Their petition received 3,200 signatures before being presented to the Commission.
“I don’t know what the answer is. It’s not as simple as let’s just get together and come to an agreement and make that work.” said Commissioner Jim Lang. “There are not dogs out there ripping birds apart. There could have been a better solution, but tonight I don’t have that.”
After hearing arguments presented from both sides the Commission addressed Park Superintendant Gretchen Iliff to come to a conclusion and state their motion.
motion is to include the staff recommendations for an off-leash master plan,” said
Commissioner Kate Minott.
Resident Jerry Kay said dogs would probably be on the beach, law or not.
“I don’t think there was any conclusion, we are going to be down there with our dogs. The opposition wants no trial, but that won’t keep us from letting our dogs run on the beach.” said Jerry Kay.