There are plenty of rules at the new Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park in San Juan Capistrano, but one of them has caught the attention of city officials: no flip-flops are allowed in the park.
Residents in the city realized their footwear could potentially be illegal upon the posting of the guidelines at the park, prompting officials to revisit park rules.
“I wouldn’t think twice about going into the dog park in my flip-flops,” Jenny Friess, vice chairwoman of the city’s parks commission, said, having been previously unaware of the ban. “I don’t think we need to be telling them what to wear on their feet.”
The dog park named for a hometown vet is not the only place that has seen the ban on flip-flops. A children’s playground in the same city’s Los Rios District has also seen the ban applied, according to the resources manager of the city. Los Rios Park had largely gone on without the rule ever being noticed, but the dog park’s grand opening in August brought along the rules and left many commissioners with the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Senior Services Commission confused, and city officials began to research how the ban came to be.
Later on, they discovered that the manufacturer of the playground had proposed the rule a few years prior as a way to protect the city from liability and avoid injuries to kids. The playground rests on a wood-chip-like cover ground, and since the dog park uses a similar ground cover, city staff felt it right to apply the ban to the new park as well.
During a meeting, several commissioners showed frustration with the rule, as well as with the long list of regulations set to govern behavior of the people visiting the dog park. Some even admitted to having worn flip-flops to the park’s ribbon-cutting ceremony and were told the rule was not being enforced because there is no supervision at the dog park.
Commission Secretary Cynthia Alexander stated, “If you go to the park with flip-flops there’s no one going to tell you to leave the park. You’re using it at your own risk.”
Commission Gerald Muir, taking issue with the statement, responded, “Why have rules that you’re not going to enforce?” The rule remains for now, but the legitimacy of the rule is being held in the air.