Miami Beach

Bal Harbour to test for one year allowing leashed dogs on beaches west of sand dunes

It’s official. Dog owners can now walk their canine friends along the beach area in Bal Harbour.

The village council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that allows dogs on the area of hardpack sand on beaches west of the sand dunes for a trial period of 12 months. The ordinance would be a sunset provision or a trial period that would expire. It is an amendment to the village code that prohibited dogs in parks and beaches. Dogs will still not be allowed on the pedestrian walkway.

The ordinance specifies that owners immediately remove any excrement and dogs must be kept on leashes. The question was then raised by resident Kevin Davis about how long leashes will be allowed to be.

“Some people have a very long leash,” Davis said. “If you are on your bike, there could be accidents.”

Resident Brian Mulhearn noted that since people read a previous Miami Herald article stating the ordinance was tentatively approved, he’d observed dogs on the beaches — not on the hardpack sand area — without leashes and excrement not being picked up.

“We are going to have to have good signage and enforcement,” Mulhearn said. “We have to educate the people. The hotels should be given information. The guests have no idea and they are going on the beach with the dogs.”

Councilman Seth Salver suggested an info sheet be sent to condos and hotels to clear up any confusion, an idea resident Dina Cellini fully supported.

“Perhaps the hotels can educate their staff and let their guests know what is allowed,” Cellini said.

Councilman Gabriel Groisman suggested that the effective date of the ordinance be delayed to April 1 instead of being effective immediately to allow time to educate residents about the guidelines.

Resident Neil Alter stressed it was “imperative” to delay the implementation of the ordinance.

“There is no margin of error here so you have to delay establishing this format to give enough time to send out notices,” Neal said. “There seems to be a surge of haste.”

Resident Steve Greenberg would like the village to have a monthly report of violations of the ordinance.

“If there are no stipulations on the length of the lease, you are going to have bikes going down the hardpack [area] and there are going to be accidents,” Greenberg said. “I’ve been a dog owner for 34 years and I am not against it but there should be a monthly report on that specific area.”

The council unanimously approved the ordinance effective immediately without any leash limitations but with a monthly report detailing code violations in the area.

Mayor Martin Packer was absent from the meeting. Assistant Mayor Patricia Cohen stated that he was in the hospital with pneumonia but was doing well.

In other happenings at the meeting:

▪ The council approved a resolution increasing the parking fee from 25 cents to 50 cents per 15 minutes for the 59-space Florida Department of Transportation parking lot beneath the Haulover Bridge. The village pays 40 percent of the gross revenue generated from the lot to FDOT under a leasing agreement.

The next council meeting is scheduled for April 21.