FRESH DIRT > City council approves three-month trial period for dogs downtown
Some people love their pets so much that they like to take them wherever they go. Whether out shopping or out to eat, dog owners will soon be able to bring their K9s downtown with them. There are other people, however, who think dog owners should leave their best friend at home.
On Tuesday, July 12, community members and officials gathered at the city council meeting to voice their opinion. Executive Director of the Downtown Association, Chip, said that the “culture needed to change.” The trial period will definitely have an effect on Santa Cruz’s culture, especially with tourists, as some community members asserted.
Betsy Firebaugh, board president of Friends of Lighthouse Field, cited statistics demonstrating the possible positive economic impact if Downtown Santa Cruz were to allow dogs downtown. “Fourteen percent of U.S. adults have traveled with a pet on a trip… in the past three years,” said Firebaugh, adding that, “thirty percent of these travelers stayed in hotels. Millions of pet owners [are] looking for a welcome place to spend the night.” Chip, who recognized the eco-nomic potential of such an ordinance, said “we’re missing out on a big market.”
Community members who are opposed to allowing dogs downtown had their say as well. “I would tend to not do my shopping downtown any longer… all the tourists will leave,” said a woman who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation. She was not alone, however, as more community members spoke to the council about similar concerns. Many people are worried about irresponsible dog owners who won’t clean up after their dogs, and also asked the council how the city planned to deal with dog urination, which would leave an odor.
Council members responded that details, such as waste and odor removal, waste-bags, and the current signage that says “No Dogs,” will be worked out dur-ing the trial period.
Mayor Ryan Coonerty suggested that a provision be included in the trial period that would limit the amount of dogs to two that person can bring downtown with them. Dog owners will be required to have their K9s on a leash and to keep them within three feet of their person. Dogs will only be allowed downtown from sunrise to sunset. Additionally, “panhandling with dogs will not be permitted,” said Coonerty.
Photo by Keana Parker