Is Benicia Ready for Another Dog Friendly Beach?

The parks panel will consider allowing dogs to go to the Ninth Street Beach.

The Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission will consider Wednesday whether to endorse a pilot program to make the Ninth Street beach the newest off-leash dog area in Benicia.  If approved by the commission and City Council, the pilot program will run for one year.

Dogs are already allowed to frolic in the water off-leash at the end of First Street and at the Promenade Beach between and the spit.  A pilot program was used to evaluate whether these two beaches were suitable for dogs to play off-leash.

Having beaches where dogs can play in the water is also one of the reasons Benicia was voted the in the United States.

The trial program that led to the Promenade and First Street beaches being open to dogs was run in 2001. During the trial period, city staff will monitor the following:

  • Number of complaints 
  • Calls for service (police or animal control) 
  • Maintenance reports 
  • Visual inspection of usage

At the end of the trial period the Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission will evaluate the data and make a recommend to the City Council whether to make the Ninth Street Beach a permanent off-leash area for dogs.

The commission meets on Wednesday, September 12, in Room 2 of the Community Center, 370 East L Street. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

What do you think?  Should dogs be allowed on the Ninth Street Beach? Tell us in comments.

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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com.

Pia Mancini September 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Robert, I urge you to PLEASE come down to the meeting tomorrow. The time was not published for some reason, but apparently the Mayor sent an email to the "supporters" of this plan that it's at 6:30 pm. OUR VOICES NEED TO BE HEARD TOO. There are already TWO dog beaches in town. We don't need a third. Our kids need to be able to enjoy a beach too.
Pia Mancini September 11, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Bruno, you are absolutely right. I walk dogs just about every day in town. More often than not, I encounter at least one or two people who walk their dogs off leash, just because they feel like the leash law doesn't apply to them. It's absolutely ridiculous. I dodge dog poop constantly. The problem is BAD OWNERS who don't care. They're going to do whatever the heck they want just because they can. TWO dog beaches in town is enough. My kids - like everyone else's kids - should be able to enjoy, frolic and swim at the 9th St. Beach without having to deal with dogs too. Don't get me wrong, I am a dog lover myself ... but people need to see the bigger picture. Dogs don't pay taxes here. PEOPLE DO!!! Let us enjoy the LAST beach in town. PLEASE come down to support the rest of us who don't want 9th St. Beach turned into a dog beach.
Michelle Kye September 11, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I don't have a dog but I like dogs and I like beaches...my vote is to give it a try. If people are responsible then it shouldn't be too much of a problem; however, if it becomes a problem, ticket offenders for not picking up after their dog and/or make it dog-free. I don't have children but I can understand how some children might be frightened by dogs and how some dogs might be frightened by children and I am certainly sympathetic to that discussion. I'll let those who have a dog or a child, advise the commissioners. I'm all for dogs, children, and beaches -- together sounds good to me, but whatever works best. One additional consideration might be wildllife, do we have snowy plovers nesting at this beach? I haven't been to that beach so I don't know.
Kenny September 11, 2012 at 06:45 PM
First off let me say that I absolutely love dogs. I have always had at least one. Big, small and in between. But.....young screaming kids in large numbers don't mix with strange dogs. Period. Thinking that only responsible people will be there with their dogs is expecting way too much. It won't happen and people will just stop going there. Another problem is people coming in from out of area to "romp" their dog. No, we have enough areas being abused by "considerate" dog owners. And until these abusers become as smart as their dog, then it is a no.
Pia Mancini September 11, 2012 at 07:24 PM
When the article was first published, there was no mention of the actual time the meeting was to take place. Only the venue was. I read the article several times to make sure I didn't miss it. When I didn't see it anywhere, that's when I asked what time and also called down to the Community Center. Now, I see that it has been included, so I thank you very much as I believe that EVERYONE should know and have the opportunity to voice their opinion, whether they're pro or con.
Pia Mancini September 11, 2012 at 07:24 PM
EXACTLY! Thanks Kenny for voicing your opinion. People tend to forget that dogs are animals ... not people in little furry suits. I am so glad that you stated your piece ... not PLEASE come down tomorrow and make your opinion heard.
Van Kelch September 11, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Has anyone actually gone to the 9th St. Beach? I don't think the water is fit for dogs, let alone children. The one and only time I let my kids go to the 9th St. beach they came home brown and stinky from the ship polluted water. With that said, I support the trial of the off leash initiative. The First Street beach is only usable during low tide. It's not accessible whenever you want (I could be wrong, but I don't think so). I am not familiar with the second approved beach so I can't comment on it. Either way, I doubt I would use the beach enough to have a strong opinion one way or another. I think the water here is too gross to let my dog in it.
JB Davis (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I think you have the beaches confused. The promenade beach is the one that isn't really accessible at high tide and it faces west, toward the Carquinez Bridge. The First Street Beach is at the very end of First Street and faces south, toward Contra Costa County.
JB Davis (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 08:58 PM
A mea culpa here folks- I was a member of the ad hoc committee that worked to get the beaches open for dogs but I am only reporting the news this time, not making it.
monica daini September 11, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Michelle, you are awesome!! Thank you for your input....you are a smart person that can think clearly!!!
monica daini September 11, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Oh, good point!! That water is nasty!! The dog haters can hang out there.
Pia Mancini September 11, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I haven't heard of any "dog haters" ... just remember ... no bad dogs, just BAD OWNERS ... people who don't train their dogs, pick up their poop, abide by leash laws, and do whatever they want with their dogs, whenever they want and feel a sense of entitlement ruin the whole experience for everyone else. Dogs are awesome. As someone stated here earlier, loose dogs mixed with rambunctious excited kids in an uncontrolled environment is probably not the best mix. That's why there are dog parks.
Pia Mancini September 11, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Very interesting tidbit of information JB. Thanks for mentioning it!
Jan Cox Golovich September 11, 2012 at 11:00 PM
I like dogs too. However, my daughter was bitten by a dog at the Ninth St. park when she was a toddler. The owner kept insisting that the dog was "friendly" and then the dog suddenly lunged at her. That was the scariest day of my life and I will never forget it. Please leave that park for the children-- I would support dogs at another park--
Stan Golovich September 11, 2012 at 11:25 PM
We have ongoing violations of BMC Animal Control Regulations at Community Park, City Park, First Street Green, and all over the city. There is no way to justify a trial period at Ninth Street when historic performance clearly indicates some people just cannot follow the rules.
Robert Livesay September 11, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Just who does the mayor think she is.
Pia Mancini September 12, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Jan, I am SO sorry to hear about dog bite on your daughter. That must have been so horrific for you and your family to go through. I hope that you and the rest of the folks who are opposed to this plan come down tomorrow night. We need to show solidarity against this proposal. Our voices must be heard. I hope to see you there!
Pia Mancini September 12, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Stan, I concur 100%. Just today, I was walking a dog and came across a guy who had his dog off leash in a residential area. As soon as he saw me walking my dog, he had to grab his dog's collar to control it. Funny thing is that he actually had a leash in his hand ... he just didn't want to put it on the dog. PEOPLE are the problem. Not the dogs. Irresponsible dog owners have proven time and time again that they will do what they want, when they want and wherever they want. Just because they feel like they can. This does NO good for the dogs. Couple this behavior with little children down at the beach is just a recipe for disasters and lawsuits galore to follow. PLEASE come and support the rest of the opposition tomorrow night. It's the ONLY way we *might* have a chance to get through to our city leaders on this issue. Thank you.
JB Davis (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 12:55 AM
This proposal is for the beach, not the park. As far as I know, the Marina Green is the only park in the city other than the dog park that even allow dogs. I seem to remember an animal control officer warning me when I was walking a dog along the trail that borders 9th Street park. The dog wasn't even on the grass but that part of the trail is considered to be part of the park.
Lisa Reynolds September 12, 2012 at 02:15 AM
I'm impressed that this discussion has stayed respectful. No matter your stance thanks for keeping it that way. BTW I posted the original notice on a Facebook page called Benicia Dogs. It was used verbatim in a release by Mayor Patterson.
Pia Mancini September 12, 2012 at 06:32 AM
I agree Lisa! Just because there's a difference of opinion, it doesn't mean things have to get ugly. I hope that people on both sides show up to say their piece. Everyone seems to really love dogs and our little town. That's what makes Benicia very special. We all need to be able to see both sides and hear each other out. There may be things we can learn from the other side. I am planning on going tomorrow for sure as I hope to shed more light on why I feel the way I do, but my husband is trying to talk me out of it because I am sick with the flu right now. I feel that this is a meeting that we can't afford to miss though. I've never been to one before. Do you know if the committee would be willing to read a letter? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Lori September 12, 2012 at 01:24 PM
First of all, I have to start by saying I am amazed that people ever let their kids swim in the water at that beach. I love the water and am a paddler, but I limit my contact with the lovely waters in and around Benicia. I completely understand the concerns about kids and dogs mingling on the beach together, but feel the need to voice my opinion about the beaches that are labeled dog friendly. The beach at the end of First Street is often covered in shards of broken glass. Not a good fit for either humans or dogs. (Dogs must be tossing their empty beer bottles there.) Toss a ball too far and your beloved pup is swept away on an outgoing tide. The beach near Sailor Jack's is only accessible during low tide and is usually a mud fest. I live just up from the Ninth Street beach and everytime my husband and I go down there, we pick up trash left by, not dogs, but beach lovers. Are there irresponsible dog owners? Unfortunately, yes. But there seem to be a lot more irresponsible beach goers from what I've seen. Poop on the beach is not an issue, but the concern of pups and kids frolicking together seems valid. How about dog friendly hours? Early morning and late afternoon? Sounds like a reasonable compromise to me! On a side note, can we ban small children from going into our one and only dog park? As a dog owner, I hate having to worry about my playful pups knocking over toddlers as they're romping with their dog friends. It's the one play they get to run wild.
Stan Golovich September 12, 2012 at 03:54 PM
As mentioned in the first comment of this thread, not everyone likes dogs. My own personal experience with an unprovoked attack on my child 30 years ago at Ninth Street has been reawakened by this discussion. I was mad as hell to say the least. What bothered me most about the incident was that my daughter was absolutely terrified as the dog ran towards her and I could not get there fast enough to stop the attack. This is the only real beach in Benicia, and children are more prevalent there than First Street or the promenade. Let's not allow a small child to possibly be terrified or bitten by an excited dog that has surprised it's owner as well by it's behavior.
Donna Seslar September 12, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I think Lori's last comment is right on!! Great analysis and ideas!
Mancini Pia September 12, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I am so sorry Stan that you and your family had to go through the trauma of a dog attack on your child. I don't think many people can fully grasp how horrific it is UNTIL it happens to their child. Thank you for sharing your personal story.
Mancini Pia September 12, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Donna, I agree! Lori made some EXCELLENT points and suggestions. The shards of glass on all beaches are pretty hazardous. I don't dare let my kiddos walk barefoot there and I'm not so sure it would be very safe for dogs either. A good friend of mine made that point to me yesterday and she has two dogs she loves walking all over town. I also agree with irresponsible beach goers and their trash. I encourage everyone who uses the beach to clean up after themselves please. It's just common courtesy and something nice to keep our nice beach clean. I just spoke to my 7 year old daughter the other day about us doing a mini-coastal clean up down there when we visit next time. Perhaps you haven't seen dog poop down there because up until now, it is still NOT a dog beach and there is a posted sign that dogs aren't allowed. Although the last time we were down there, two separate dog owners with two of the most beautiful Mastiffs were brought down to the beach near children and families. I didn't notice if they were released off leash. But it just proves that people can see a posted sign and STILL ignore them and do what they please. I absolutely LOVE the idea of Lori's compromise of dog friendly hours. But how will that be enforced? Another sign perhaps that people will ignore? A dedicated animal control officer to sit at the beach everyday all day long writing tickets to ensure safety would be ideal in a perfect world with unlimited city funds but is it realistic?
Mancini Pia September 12, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Sorry ... missed one more point about dog parks ... YES, I totally agree with Lori that small toddlers and children shouldn't be in the dog parks either. Rambunctious, happy and playful dogs don't make the distinction between rough play with each other and little kids. See .... maybe having a rational, adult conversation together about all these points may just be the solution to the debate. We can ALL learn from each other and see each other's perspectives without resorting to personal attacks and ugliness. After all, it seems to me that everyone here for the most part is concerned about the city, its dogs, families and children. On a side note, Lisa had posted the message from the Mayor on a Facebook page called Benicia Dogs ... I noticed today that there was a post that encouraged supporters to come down to today's meeting at 6:00 PM and NOT 6:30 as was previously stated. So I'm not sure if this means that the time has been formally changed and just not announced for some odd reason. But I encourage EVERYONE, either pro or con to make it down there at 6:00 PM to be safe. As now, I have absolutely NO idea what time the thing *really* starts.
Jan Cox Golovich September 12, 2012 at 11:01 PM
JB, as you know --- in order for dogs to get to the 9th St. Beach, they have to go through the 9th St. Park. The City will have to allow dogs at both the Park and the Beach for this proposal to work, especially along the narrow path down to the beach-- unless there is a helicopter service.
Lori September 13, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Pia mentioned a concern that in having dog friendly hours (which I still feel is the BEST compromise) we'd need to have an animal control officer parked there to write tickets to violators. Why? We all know we have violators with the current codes. Do we have an animal control officer 'dedicated' to ticketing dog owners who use the beach now? No. So I doubt that would really need to change. Yes, as Stan mentioned, people ignore signs and commit violations all the time. As he said, there are "some people who just cannot follow rules." That is evidenced everyday by the throngs of people speeding by me on my way to work, people using their cell phones while driving, etc. There is inherent risk in any of these violations and the violators, when caught, are penalized. Same should hold true for irresponsible dog owners. Get caught? Pay the penalty. There will always be rule breakers, but we don't punish the many for the few. I don't think that that's a good enough argument for not having a trial period for permitting dogs at the 9th Street beach. An example of that mentality in action would be to close the 9th Street park to all visitors because the current code says that the park is closed during the evening hours. Yet 'some people just can't follow the rules" and violate that law on a daily basis. Punish the violators, not the rule followers. Give the trial period a chance!
Lori September 13, 2012 at 12:57 AM
I just reread through all the responses a seond time and I think Gretchen is on to a great idea! She expressed concern that running a trial through the colder months might not be a true indicator of the success of the trial program. As she mentions, fewer people use the beach then. Well that got me to thinking so I did some searching online. There are beaches that only allow canine visitors between Labor Day and Memorial Day, making the beaches off limits to dogs during the busy summer season. The 9th Street beach is pretty much empty once the cooler weather comes. Maybe a reasonable compromise?


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