Dog law unleashed on Pierpont
New lifeguard towers bring new enforcement
By Bill Lascher 07/05/2007
Dog owners who hope to spend the summer months strolling with their furry friends near Ventura’s Pierpont neighborhood may want to make other plans.
New lifeguard towers installed June 27 at three spots and increased patrols on the beach mean that the California Department of Parks and Recreation will now enforce existing state laws. That means beachgoers need to find a new place for bonfires, booze and Buster the bulldog.
The Pierpont Community Council raised $21,000 to install and staff the towers for the summer after Tim Barry died in December 2006 while trying to save his grandniece. The towers will be open as part of a pilot program this summer.
Although the new lifeguards’ primary responsibility will be to ensure safety on the beaches, they are also required to enforce longstanding regulations such as the dog ban. Already as early as June 29 lifeguards were stopping dog owners and telling them they’d have to remove their dogs from the beach or face possible fines.
Carrie Fick, a Thousand Oaks resident, was one of them. She and her husband usually take their two dogs to Pierpont area beaches many times every summer.
“There’s not many places to take a dog around here,” Fick said as she packed her things to leave the beach after the lifeguards’ warning. “This is one of the places we would make a day of it.”
After stopping Fick, the lifeguards crossed the jetty and told Hilary Cox that she would have to take her dogs Sebastian and Sateen from the beach.
“I think it’s kinda bullshit, but it happens,” Cox said.
Many of the beachgoers, said they were given varying reasons for the ban. Fick, for example, said she was told the ban was because people in the area didn’t like dogs. Cox, on the other hand, was told that there was a lawsuit that prompted the ban.
“I can understand if they were afraid of bigger dogs but mine weigh less than ten pounds,” Cox said. “I’m not really worried about them attacking anyone. As long as people leave their dogs on a leash I don’t really have a problem.”
William Moselli had stronger opinions about the new enforcement. Moselli, who didn’t receive a citation or warning when the VC Reporter was present, often takes his Chihuahua JoJo Diablo with him while he places guitar at the end of Seaward Ave.
“People still don’t have the word on this thing. That means they don’t know,” he said. “They’re taking away a lifestyle these people work for. They own these homes and they ought to be able to take their dogs on the beach if they want to. They ought to have a place to let their dogs run. It’s like their backyard.”
But Wes Chapin, a spokesman for the California State Parks Channel Coast District, said that he hopes concerned beachgoers don’t lose site of the reason for the new lifeguard towers.
“I understand that there are some people who are pretty upset about that,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t cause people to lose sight of what is the real important issue down there.”
Chapin said because this is a change for many people who regularly take their dogs to the Pierpont area, citations won’t be issued during a three- to four-week grace period. During that time, he said, his department hopes to work with the Pierpont Community Council and the city to inform the public about the new enforcement.