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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