Orpheus Park playground fencing approved to keep out off-leash dogs


The city will install fencing around the Orpheus Park playground to keep off-leash dogs out.

The Encinitas City Council voted 3-2 in favor of the fence — complete with gates — on a one-year trial basis at the Feb. 18 meeting.

Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who backed the motion, said she’s heard from parents who are concerned about off-leash dogs overtaking park playgrounds.

The agenda item listed three parks that have both playgrounds and off-leash dog hours for fencing consideration. Blakespear said she supported trying out a fence at Orpheus Park to see how it goes.

Councilman Tony Kranz said dog droppings on park playgrounds have created sanitation issues.

“It’s basic logic there’s going to be a question of sanitation,” Kranz said. He added the trial program would provide the city with valuable input on the effectiveness of fencing park playgrounds.

The agenda item didn’t draw any public speakers, surprising Kranz.

“Any time you bring up a dog issue there are dozens of people who want to weigh in,” Kranz said.

In opposing the motion, Councilman Mark Muir said he’d prefer to wait until the city completes the Parks Master Plan to gauge whether fencing is necessary at park playgrounds with off-leash hours. For the plan, residents will be surveyed on which amenities they’d like parks to have.

Mayor Kristin Gaspar echoed Muir, saying she preferred to explore fencing and a related shade project as part of the Parks Master Plan. That way, the city could weigh fencing versus other parks projects competing for funding, she added.

“The timing of this, to me, is a bit off,” Gaspar said.

In one year, the council will review public input on the fence and decide whether it should stay. Jason La Riva, park and beach superintendent, said concrete won’t be poured around the fence, so city staff could remove it if need be without too much trouble.

During the review, the council will also look at whether fencing should go around the playgrounds at Viewpoint Park and Sun Vista Park, which also have off-leash dog hours.

As part of council’s motion, the Orpheus Park fence will encircle the playground benches to make it easier for parents who are sitting to interact with their kids.

Originally, city staff plans showed a fence with a smaller diameter that didn’t go around the benches at a cost of $15,400. The larger fence will be more money, but likely in the “hundreds, not the thousands,” La Riva said.

Also, at Orpheus Park, signs will be installed reminding residents to keep dogs out of the playground for sanitation reasons.

A date hasn’t been set for when fencing will be installed.