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Parks Panel Opts to Keep Dogs Off 9th Street Beach

City still allows off leash dogs on the beach at First Street and continues to support the dog park as an off leash area too.

After hearing from residents, some who wanted the beach open to dogs others who opposed the idea and some who were looking for a compromise that would work for everyone, the Benicia Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission voted unanimously to oppose allowing dogs on the Ninth Street beach adjacent to Alvarez Park.

The commission had been asked to consider a one-year pilot program that would allow dogs at Ninth Street beach.

Most of the citizens who came to the commission meeting at the Benicia Community Center were dog owners who opposed the idea of mixing dogs and families with young children.  City Council member Tom Campbell sat quietly in the back of the room and listened while the public spoke.

“We live and breath dogs – we can’t imagine our lives without them,” said Michelle Gonsalves.  “After reading about the proposal, I am baffled why a third beach is absolutely necessary for dogs.  I just don’t understand.”

Not everyone opposed the idea.  Bill Ostrander talked about taking his dog to the beach at 12th Street park before it was named for shipbuilder Matthew Turner and then seeing that park closed to dogs.

“I favor it (the pilot program)”, said Ostrander.  “I think we do need more public areas for dogs.”

Others, like Jim Gossman and Lori Tanner supported a more nuanced approach, allowing dogs on the beach during times of the day or year when human use is low.  Gossman’s approach would be to limit the hours when dogs could be on the beach and Tanner supported a seasonal approach that would prohibit dogs in the summer months.

In the end, commissioners voted to maintain the status quo and oppose any use of the beach by dogs.

“I have a neighbor who has three lovely kids and he goes down to the Marina Green to fly kites,” said Commissioner Ernie Gutierrez. “He says his kids are intimidated by the number of dogs that are running around off leash.”

Prior to the 6-0 vote to oppose the pilot program Commissioner Rufus Bunch said, “I’m absolutely for keeping it for people because we can be dog friendly but not dog run.”

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Pia Mancini September 15, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Lori, I only mentioned this because you said in an earlier comment that responsible dog owners would do a good job at regulating usage at the beach. I believe this was because someone had mentioned at the meeting that dog owners would call someone out if they see something wrong being done. Just because you and I *hope* that most people would call 911 and not say anything to that person, it doesn't mean that confrontations don't happen. We live in a whole new world now. A lot of people won't have rational conversations like we are now. Beefs are settled in many different ways and obviously pets are a very hot topic and touchy subject. Like I said before ... I'm bringing a different perspective to the table - ones that you may not think about. That's all. As far as "intelligent people" ... well, I think you're giving a lot of humans WAY too much credit ... LOL
Pia Mancini September 15, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Thank you Stan. We need to find an alternative to 12th St. and 9th St.
Pia Mancini September 15, 2012 at 09:56 PM
^^^ LOL! Although it would be interesting to see what they have to say!
Robert Livesay September 16, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Stan I do believe you are right. The mayor would be the one vote.. Pia and John you have now heard from Robert.
Teresa P October 17, 2012 at 07:25 PM
It is disappointing to read these comments. The current dog beach access is unacceptable! A beach where we can safely allow our dogs to swim without the traffic of 1st Street is needed. Face it, people drive to the end of 1st to see the view and don't look at where they are driving. It is a bad situation for dogs! In addition to the glass already mentioned at the end of first, my dog fell into a deep hole which required me to pull him out. Having beach access for specific hours at another beach works in other communities. People knowing when the dogs are allowed is easily resolved by posting signs that include the number for animal control. About a year ago the city updated the signs at the dog park and it really helped! I think that some dog owners are missing the point as would I with my prior dogs when I worked and had limited time to get them out. Now that I have more time, I realize how much better Benicia could be! Much of the arguments about permitting dogs due to bad dog behavior are bogus. Yes a few owners do not pick up after their dogs (whom should be shot at sunset) but there are a lot of responsible owners in this town. Yes,pit bulls can be a problem but, there are nice ones too..... Would you restrict cars because Benicians behave badly on our roads? How about banning all SUVs - starting with the one I saw almost run down a kid on his bike? (btw The kid was doing everything right)

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