The Newport Beach City Council voted on Tuesday to expand the hours that dogs are permitted on beaches — but not for the 90 minutes a day that a staff report suggested and a parks commission approved.
Instead, in a 5-2 vote, the Council decided to keep dog hours the same during summer months but eliminate restrictions from Sept. 15 to May 15, when beach crowds typically thin out.
Several dog owners, who were in the audience and testified in favor of the expanded hours, applauded after the vote.
Currently, dogs are banned on Newport Beach beaches from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year. Many dog owners wanted to extend the hours in the winter, when it is dark by 5 p.m. and difficult for them to walk dogs safely after dark on city beaches.
City staff wanted the hours to be the same year-round in order to simplify enforcement. But Councilwoman Nancy Gardner said that 4:30 p.m. is too early for dogs to be on beaches on crowded summer weekends — and it’s too restrictive on winters when the beaches are mostly empty.
In the end, the Council voted to eliminate the hours altogether in the winter months. Councilmen Ed Selich and Don Webb voted against the plan.
“I think we ought to leave things the way they are,” Selich said.
The issue will go before the Council for a second reading before it is adopted, said City Manager Dave Kiff.