Aliso Canyon park and dogs

Redondo Beach has prohibited dogs in parks (even on a leash) since an ordinance was passed in 1979, much to the surprise of dog owners. City councilmembers will likely rescind the law at a future meeting. In this photo, people play with their dogs at Aliso Canyon Community Park in Aliso Viejo. (File photo)

Redondo Beach City Council moved Tuesday night, Feb. 18, to allow dogs on leashes in 9 parks and 12 parkettes throughout the city, something many dog owners have said they had no idea was illegal.

Neighboring cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Torrance along with many other cities up and down the coast allow dogs on leashes in city parks leaving Redondo as an outlier with its ordinance to prohibit dogs in parks since 1979.

Redondo Beach has 32 parks and parkettes in addition to one dog park at Dominguez Park.

The proposal came from the city's Recreation and Parks Commission over a series of meetings. Commission Chair Whitney Taylor said people already bring dogs to Redondo Beach parks and all the change in law would do is make that behavior legal. An estimated 56% of Redondo residents own pets and 36% are dog owners, Taylor said.

"More than half of residents are pet owners and you are limiting them in your city, yet you want to create more green space," Taylor said. "You guys are asking like I’m saying let’s bring zebras to Redondo Beach. Let’s be real. We’re modernizing. It’s 2020. This is crazy to me. I think the majority of people will agree with that."

In a report to the City Council on Tuesday, Community Services Director John LaRock said there would be a one-time cost of $5,940 and ongoing costs of $11,700 per year to maintain doggy bag stations. LaRock also said the city would need to hire a full-time public works employee at a cost of $70,000 per year just to refill the various bag stations and handle all dog-related park and Esplanade issues. But several council members balked at this proposal saying the city did not need to hire an additional staff person for this.

City officials also said they planned to step up efforts to register more dogs. As of March 2019, 2,432 dogs in the city were registered. Based on census data and the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are roughly 10,000 dog owning households and likely more than 16,000 dogs in the city.

"We don’t have this simple courtesy of allowing a resident to walk their dogs through the green space with a pet and I just think that’s illogical," said Recreation and Parks Commisioner Kate Korman-Sooper. "This municipal code is archaic... It seems like such a no brainier to give this a shot and see how it goes."

Most of the public comments on Tuesday were in favor of allowing dogs in city parks. There were, however, several residents who opposed the idea. One resident complained "parks are for people" and worried about her elderly husband possibly getting knocked over by a dog. Others were concerned about feces. Some predicted more will show up opposed when the measure comes back for its first reading in April.

"As society has changed, there are more people walking dogs," said Councilmember Laura Emdee. "We’re always talking about being a more walk-able city. What’s the best way to encourage that if they actually have something to do?"

In two informal polls by Emdee and Councilmember Todd Loewenstein of about 400 and 300 people, roughly 70% of respondents said they supported allowing dogs in city parks.

"It's high time we do this and make this a dog friendly town," Loewenstein said. "If you don’t want to be near the dogs we will give you plenty of places to do that."

The nine parks include Lilienthal, Franklin, Andrews, Czuleger, Del Page, Dominguez, Lilenthal, Perry Allison, and Vincent. Parkettes include Redondo Bikepath Parkette (not the county bikepath), Flagler/Ripley, General Eaton A, Greene, Gregg, Huntington, La Paz, Massena, Matthews, McNeill/Jaycee, Rivera and Townsend.

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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