and gaining approval for dogs to be permitted on part of the public beach. The demonstrators gathered
in front of the city’s beachside pavilion.
Among the signs: ‘Surfers, paddleboards, volleyball, sunbathers ... Everyone can use our beach but dog owners.’
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Rich Pollack
Dog owners who fought to have a portion of Delray Beach’s public beach set aside for their four-legged friends appear to have lost their months-long battle.
Now there may be even more bad news — especially for pooch owners who scoff at the law — as the city begins cracking down on those who violate its no-dogs-on-the-beach ordinance.
Delray Beach commissioners at a workshop meeting in May shot down a proposal that would have established a six-month pilot program crafted by city staff with input from local pet owners.
That plan would have set aside a small portion of Atlantic Dunes Park as a dog beach for a few morning hours and a few evening hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
During a lengthy discussion in which 16 dog owners spoke in favor of the proposal and 16 mostly beachside residents spoke against, commissioners were told that many owners are acting in violation of city ordinances and allowing their dogs to run free on the beach.
Part of the problem, according to Mayor Cary Glickstein, is that the city has been lax in enforcing its no-dogs-on-the-beach policy, a responsibility that currently falls on the shoulders of police officers.
“We all look silly not enforcing our laws,” the mayor said. “We also look silly having sworn police officers doing the dog patrol. The solution is educating volunteers and park rangers who may be given authority to write citations.”
While attorneys are investigating the possibility of changing city ordinances to allow those other than police and code enforcement officers to write civil citations, the police department has already begun implementing a plan to keep dogs off the beach.
This month, according to a memo Police Chief Jeff Goldman wrote to Glickstein, the police department will begin an educational campaign with fliers, social media and traditional media designed to remind dog owners of the law.
Beginning in July, violators of the city ordinance will receive a written warning for a first offense and a citation for a second offense. The city’s code enforcement department will assist police on the enforcement side.
According to the police department, there has been little enforcement of the city ordinance by the department up to now.
Through the first four months of this year, no citations were written for dogs on the beach, according to police department records. In all of 2015, there were only nine citations issued. Police issued 30 citations for dogs on the beach in 2014 and 43 in 2013.
Of all the 82 citations written since 2013, about half were written to individuals with Delray Beach addresses. Four were written to out-of-state residents and the remainder were to South Florida residents living outside of the Delray Beach area.
Many residents who spoke during May’s commission meeting cited the lack of enforcement as a problem.
“It’s despicable the number of people who disregard the ordinance,” said resident Steve Blum.
Several residents spoke about health concerns associated with dogs on the beach, reporting that not all owners clean up after their pets.
Others said that unleashed dogs have approached them when they were walking on the beach, leading to safety concerns.
“There are always dogs on the beach,” said resident Alan Schwartz, who added that additional enforcement could lead to more revenue for the city.
Some, however, including Vice Mayor Al Jacquet and Commissioner Mitch Katz, said that creating a dog beach could actually help reduce the problem.
“It seems we have a problem enforcing the laws we have on the books,” Jacquet said. “People are already having dogs on the beach. Let’s put it all in one area where we can regulate it.”
At the same time, however, Jacquet agreed with Commissioner Jordana Jarjura that the city is facing more pressing financial issues that need to be addressed.
Citing health and safety reasons as well as other priorities facing the city, Jarjura, Glickstein and Commissioner Shelly Petrolia said they were not in favor of creating a dog beach.
Proponents of the proposal noted that dog beaches work in many other communities, including Boca Raton. However, Glickstein and several others pointed out that those beaches are larger and configured differently than Delray’s public beach.
“Boca’s beach is twice the size of Delray’s beach,” he said. “Fort Lauderdale’s beach is four times the size.”
Delray Beach resident Harvey Starin, who represented the 1,000-member Friends of Delray Dog Beach, said he does not believe increased enforcement will work.
“It will make people really angry,” he said. “It’s going to force people to go to Boca or Jupiter.
“Other people will grin and bear it and be disappointed in City Hall.”