The Coast News Group
Dave Nakano and doodle Loki enjoy the sports field at the Shores Park site in Del Mar on Tuesday. Photo by Laura Place
Dave Nakano and doodle Loki enjoy the sports field at the Shores Park site in Del Mar on Tuesday. Photo by Laura Place
Del MarDel Mar FeaturedNews

With Shores Park project delayed, city extends dog leash rules

DEL MAR  — The City Council has agreed to make temporary dog leash rules at Shores Park permanent in the face of ongoing delays to the land’s planned redevelopment.

Dog owners who come to the park will not experience any changes to off-leash hours at the property’s sports field. Off-leash dogs will still be permitted from 6 to 8:30 a.m. seven days a week and from 3:30 p.m. to dusk on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The city originally established regulations for off-leash dog hours at the Shores Park property in 2012, soon after the city bought the site from the Del Mar Union School District. At the time, the city believed these would be temporary regulations to be revisited once the park project moved forward.

However, little progress has been made on the project since 2019, and City Manager Ashley Jones said it’s unclear when efforts may pick up again. Instead of repeatedly extending the temporary dog leashing rules every few years, city leaders decided it would be better to make them permanent.

“At that time, we really thought it would be a temporary basis because we were moving forward with the Shores Park master planning process. However, that process has been on hold for some time,” Jones told the City Council on Monday. “What staff is suggesting at this time is to go ahead and solidify the rules and keep them in place.” 

Dog owners take advantage of the off-leash hours at the Shore Park sports field in Del Mar on Tuesday. Photo by Laura Place
Dog owners take advantage of the off-leash hours at the Shore Park sports field in Del Mar on Tuesday. Photo by Laura Place

At all other times, the field is set aside for use by The Winston School, which is also housed on the property, and various local sports teams. 

Meanwhile, the timeline for the Shores Park master planning effort, into which the city has already invested around $275,000, remains unclear. The next time that the city is likely to revisit the project is during the City Council’s goal-setting workshop, which will take place sometime in the next two months, Jones said.

Between 2014 and 2019, the city collaborated with the public on the master planning process for the Shores Park project, with plans for a community building, walking paths, a below-grade parking structure, a sports court, a picnic plaza, two open-space turf areas, and a rebuilt campus for The Winston School. 

By the time the project’s momentum faded in 2019, the city council had advanced two potential site designs created by Schmidt Design Group for further refinement. It is unknown whether the city will use these 2018 designs moving forward or start fresh. 

Two potential site plans for the Shores Park project created by Schmidt Design Group and selected by the City Council in 2018. Due to multiyear project delays, it is unknown if these plans will be used moving forward. Courtesy renderings
Dogs are allowed off leash at the Shores Park sports field in Del Mar during the early morning and certain afternoons. Photo by Laura Place
Dogs are allowed off-leash at the Shores Park sports field in Del Mar during the early morning and certain afternoons. Photo by Laura Place

“It is unclear at this time how much, if any, of the prior site plan proposals could still be considered. Determining that would be one of the first steps in the reengagement process,” Jones said.

The project was further stalled in the past few years by disagreements and litigation between Winston School and the city. After struggling to see eye-to-eye about campus reconstruction plans, the city terminated the school’s 55-year lease, prompting a lawsuit. 

However, the city and school reached a settlement agreement in October, restoring the school’s lease and allowing them to re-submit plans for their campus rebuild. With this resolution, plans for The Winston School will no longer have an impact on the larger park planning effort, Jones said. 

Winston’s board president, Laura Cunitz, said the school is awaiting feedback from the city on their re-submitted campus rebuild plans. Under their agreement with the city, construction on the school rebuild must begin by the end of 2027.

“We have successfully begun fundraising and plan to start our campus remodel as soon as is feasible given the time requirements of the city’s Design Review Board process,” Cunitz said. 

When it comes to the larger Shores Park project, the school will maintain its nonexclusive rights to the playing fields and parking.

Leave a Comment