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Letters to the Editor:

Liberal media

To the editor:

Your front page on today August 25, 2005 is a prime example of the liberal media. Cindy Sheehan is disgracing the memory of her brave son and all that have lost their lives in the war on terror. I guarantee you that more disagree with Cindy than agree. However, the naive liberals and media insist on making her a hero. It is stories like these that make me seek my local news from other sources.

Richard Chace, Santa Monica

Opposes dog beaches

To the editor:

The Santa Monica Bay needs greater care and attention than other bodies of water. According to the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, water quality is negatively impacted when the amount of impervious surfaces (cement, roads, buildings, etc.) in a watershed nears 10% of the total land in the watershed.

Maintaining water quality in the Santa Monica Bay is a challenging task because the amount of impervious surfaces in the watershed is currently at 29 percent, three times the accepted maximum. Couple this with the anticipated population growth in the Santa Monica Bay watershed (1.9 million now projected to be 2.5 million in 2020), then it becomes critical that legislation affecting the Santa Monica Bay be guided by a principal of minimizing negative environmental impacts on this natural resource.

Parsing the beaches of the Bay into dog beaches under the guise of maximizing beach usage is contrary to this principle.

The negative impact on the Santa Monica Bay created by impervious surfaces occurs when the water that enters storm drains runs untreated into the Bay. A chief contributor to pathogenic loads in the Santa Monica Bay due to this runoff is fecal waste from pets–waste left behind on lawns and sidewalks by pet owners.

State and local regulations have been implemented to require cities, including the City of Los Angeles, to try to minimize the amount of untreated waste that flows into the Bay. With cities trying to reduce pathogenic loads upstream, it makes no sense to allow a known pathogenic source, dogs, to roam free on a beach in the Santa Monica Bay.

Proponents of a dog beach do not assert that fecal waste and urine will not be generated on the beach by their pets. Of course they will. Proponents also do not assert that all dog owners that use a dog beach will be responsible and pick up after their pets. Of course, they won’t. Instead, proponents of a dog beach argue that the presence of dogs on a beach will not adversely effect water quality because volunteers have pledged to clean up after their dog and others. These pledges represent the flaw in the proposal – that a dog beach cannot be environmentally neutral without Herculian efforts of volunteers. Such an unproven volunteer effort does not provide adequate assurance to disregard the concerns of environmental groups that protect the Sant Monica Bay and that oppose a dog beach. It is a lot easier to kick sand over fecal waste and urine left by someone else’s dog than to pick it up, especially when chasing after a dog.

Pets of any kind are currently prohibited on beaches in the Santa Monica Bay. With a baseline such as this, local cities can continue to work to address storm drain runoff and make the Santa Monica Bay a favored destination point for families. Establishing dog beaches at El Segundo, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Malibu as currently proposed runs counter to the efforts of cities and the many efforts of groups like the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, the Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), LA County Beaches and Harbors, and LA County Lifeguards to protect and restore the Santa Monica Bay.

The LA City Council recently adopted a resolution in support of AB 359, the stalled State bill proposing an unfenced, off-leash dog beach at Dockweiler in El Segundo. Even though the City Council resolution got the location wrong (Playa del Rey rather than the proposed site in El Segundo), this vote of support should come as no surprise. The City of Los Angeles sued to prevent implementation of the regulations that would clean up the storm drain runoff into the Santa Monica Bay.

Local and State politicians are being bombarded by dog activist groups and their paid lobbyists that threaten politicians with their political support if the politicians don’t support a dog beach. Unfortunately, this tactic overshadows the fact that the vast majority of people are opposed to a dog beach. The dog beach debate is an excellent example of how politicians pander to interest groups rather than consider the impact their decision will have on communities and the environment. AB 359, for example, would place an off-leash, unfenced dog beach in a heavily used area (3.5 million people in 2004) that later this year will include an aquatic youth center

and classroom for inner city school children. Parents of children that will benefit from the youth center would certainly be shocked to learn that the LA City Council believed that it was acceptable for their children to share the space with off-leash dogs.

If the recent LA City Council vote is any indication of what’s to come, off-leash, unfenced dog beaches will be part of the Santa Monica Bay landscape unless those opposed speak out. I urge you to contact your local and State politicians and express your view.

Tom Babbitt, El Segundo

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