February 2012 home page

Solomon Solution Sought

The dispute over use of the Shores Park seems near final resolution by the Del Mar City Council. It will likely be a “shared use” solution with time frames being allocated for use by dog and non-dog use. Of course, this is a temporary solution until the park undergoes a master planning process. Meanwhile different factions continue to assert their interests. Following are two different views.

For the Kids
Tom Sohn | 26th Street


Photo Ann Gardner


As most people see it, the City of Del Mar has two parks for general recreation (Powerhouse and Seagrove Park), one athletic field (Shores Park) and one area for off-leash dogs (Dog Beach). These are all fantastic options for our community and really cover the spectrum. Powerhouse & Seagrove are fantastic spaces for our citizens to enjoy a picnic or a birthday party. The Shores Park was, until recently, a great place for families with children to play soccer or teach a young one how to ride a bike without a concrete punishment for falling. Dog Beach is a great location for the dogs of Del Mar to run free.

This dynamic shifted a few years ago when the City took down a fence and the play structure at the Shores for liability reasons. With this newfound, uninhibited space, the dogs moved in and the children moved out. After lots of testimony from all interested parties, both the Council’s Parks & Recreation Committee and the City’s Staff independently came up with off-leash, fenced in areas within the Shores Park. Council however, ignored both of these solutions, instead choosing to side with those who ‘barked’ the loudest. In rejecting the Parks & Rec Plan and the Staff’s plan in favor of a “shared-use” plan, Mayor Carl Hilliard commented, “[The Shores] was intended to be a community park and everyone in the community should be able to use it.”

Should, but unfortunately, cannot. The Council’s preferred “shared-use” plan really doesn’t share anything. “Shared-use” is essentially in effect right now as there are no technical prohibitions from children using the park. However, walk past the Shores at any time and what you will find are 2 scenarios. You will see anywhere from 1 or 2 to 20+ dogs running around or you will find absolutely nothing. No families, no kids, no activity. Why is that? Well, if there are 20+ dogs, the park is unusable by anyone else. If there are just a few dogs, any ball-related activity by a child brings an instant challenge from a faster competitor with sharper teeth. No dogs? Great, just make sure you avoid the few missed piles of dog poop from the night before when you score your soccer goal or go deep to catch the football. One can argue that “shared-use” can and does work but they simply ignore the current reality that shared-use is in effect now and there is no “shared” in the use of the Shores.

The Shores is now an $8.5 million citizen funded Dog Park. Family use has been moved out to Del Mar Hills or Del Mar Heights. It is an unfortunate reality. In prior years, Del Mar had a little bit for everyone. Now it has a lot for a few and none for others.




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