Santa Cruz California: Repeal the Dog Ban

For many years, Santa Cruz downtown has had a dubious distinction – No Dogs allowed. This is on the sidewalks, in the stores, at the cafes and patios. Everywhere. As one of only a handful of cities with such an ordinance the time has come to repeal this law. With arguably the most dog-friendly city in America, Carmel, less than a 1 hour drive from Santa Cruz, this law has been a money loser and serves no useful purpose. Now there is an effort to overturn the dog ban. We ourselves have driven right by Santa Cruz to Monterey or Carmel due to this policy which blights an otherwise dog-friendly area. Anyone who is interested in this issue, please see the attached Santa Cruz Sentinel article for more information:

Santa Cruz merchants likely to support overturning downtown dog ban

UPDATE – July 20, 2011 – The Santa Cruz City Council voted 4-2 to allow dogs in downtown starting by Sept 1, 2011 – see updated story

45 Responses to “Santa Cruz California: Repeal the Dog Ban”

  1. m spring says:

    We were going to return to SC for a weekend instead of Monterey for a change, but on learning about the dog ban, and us with our 2 yr old rescue german shepard, we decided to go where we can walk with her.
    Maybe some other time, eh?

  2. Nanda says:

    They allow people down there why not dogs?

  3. Frances collins says:

    Thanks – I know to stay away from Santa Cruz. My daughter loves the boardwalk – but we also love our dog!

  4. Robert Bruce says:

    The last time that I did not stay in Santa Cruz because of the dog ban, my wife and I have two Yorkies, I spent around $4500 staying in Capitola for the week. I know that is not a lot to your businesses, but as long as the ban stays in place, we will stay away for our vacations. Note that we live in far off San Francisco and many of our friends are also dog owners who take their dogs on vacations with them.

  5. Diane says:

    Wasn’t aware of this until I read your website. We are planning a trip this weekend. Renting a private house, but I guarantee we will drive OUT of Santa Cruz for any shopping, meals, etc., and will NOT come back until they repeal this really ridiculous law. Thought all those left-wingers down there were all about everyone being equal??

  6. Julie says:

    I wasn’t aware of this law. Thanks for posting this. I for one will not be going to Santa Cruz any time soon. If my dog isn’t welcome they don’t deserve my business.

  7. Rochelle says:

    Wow. Didn’t know. We need to visit to see a friend graduate UC Santa Cruz and were looking for a dog friendly hotel. Guess we’ll go back to Carmel. Our Aussie Shepard/ Bull Terrier mix is ten years old and goes into Bloomies and Nordstrom in LA. We often walk and shop Santa Monica where everyone shops and eats with their dogs. Too bad! She’s part of our family.

  8. JP says:

    Well, here I am in Santa Cruz with my 2 year old Terrier. I found a dog friendly hotel, but my dog will probably spend the two days in the room or whenever we drive around. I’ve search for places to walk with her, but have not found any.

  9. leslie says:

    It’s too bad I didn’t find out until after I arrived here in Santa Cruz that my dogs are not welcome. I am stunned that such a laid back, ‘liberal’ town could have such an outrageous law. I have to be here for a few days waiting for my niece to finish finals at UCSC so I guess I’ll have to take a road trip to Carmel. I will not support a town’s economy that discriminates against members of my family. Santa Cruz merchants should be aware that this law is severely impacting their businesses.

  10. Christine says:

    Although there are places and beaches you can go with dogs, it really leaves a bad taste in your mouth for such a city. i agree that such a laid back town can have such an up tight rule. But i also know its not the laid back people that made the rule its the uptight business owners with money like the pacific cookie co owner. They also have to understand people who tend to take there dogs with them on long trips or to run errands don’t take aggressive dogs or dogs with out manners. if they spend that much time with there owners they will be pretty socialized. I use to be a local and never understood this rule. now i visit and many times have to cut my visit short due to my dog being in the car. their afraid of making it dirty there? Its Santa Cruz, the freaky people smoking pot or not bathing will scare more people away then dogs. but they cant ban that. I really hope this gets lifted because i would like my whole family to experience Santa Cruz.

  11. Tom says:

    We used to love going to Santa Cruz for a fun daytrip from the SF east bay regularly. With the dog ban we stopped going there and blow the money elsewhere like Capitola or old town Sacramento. Even if they repeal the law it will take a long time to rid the bad juju of a nazi-ish goverment attitude from our minds before we even consider returning
    BTW if you MUST go there there are some dog friendly beaches if you ask around

  12. Eileen says:

    I had no idea the city of Santa Cruz had such a ridiculous law. My husband will be working for a week in Mountain View (Google) and I am coming along for fun. We decided to stay in Santa Cruz because there is a work shuttle to Mountain View from Santa Cruz.

    We will be bringing our dog with us because we always bring her with us on beach trips. We are from Washington and often stay on the Oregon Coast where dogs are practically encouraged. Now I am having to more carefully research what I will do with my dog during the day. The obvious answer is spend my time outside of downtown Santa Cruz. I even called the visitors bureau asking for dog-friendly accommodation referrals. They never even mentioned this law’s existence. Good grief. How truly ludicrous this town is.

    And for any ridiculous anti-dog types who might be reading this, my dog is a rescue who went through a year of professional AKC obedience training. She trained with service dogs and narcotics detection dogs. She is significantly better behaved than most people’s children.

  13. azzam azzam says:

    I wouldn’t want my dog getting fleas from the residents of Santa Cruz, so this is probably for the best!

  14. jessica says:

    wow this is news to me! I’m supposed to be movin to sc next may after my weddin since my fiance lives it really that bad, I’ve only ever tried takin my dog to boardwalk blah…im so saddened, idk what to do now, I guess I’ll check out capitola

  15. Santa Cruz Rez says:

    We are actually leaving Santa Cruz because we’re so tired of living in a town with so many pet restrictions. There is only one beach where you can take a dog to actually run off leash in the city limits, and it’s often so nasty and filthy (think piles of rotting seaweed, dead seal and bird carcasses, maggots and RATS that are larger than some dogs) that we have learned to avoid it. No dogs downtown, no dogs on the mountain trails, most businesses are not dog friendly. Lighthouse Field was, for 30 years, a great place to take dogs for a friendly play – the state took it over a couple years back and now it’s leash restricted space. The dog parks are few, crowded, and filled with unpleasant conflicts (even more so between owners than dogs). If you have a dog and love to spend time with her, avoid Santa Cruz and spend your travel dollars elsewhere.

  16. Michelle says:

    We were going to bring our two corgis to santa cruz with us as we always do when we go on vacation, but I just found this article -NO Dogs allowed at all in the downtown area. I never thought that such a place existed.

  17. Sylvia says:

    No dogs in town! too bad, we are visiting from Florida with 2 dogs.
    Wanted to attend the Polynisian festival, but will not attend if we can’t
    bring them with us.
    I guess we’ll stay in Pacific Grove and Carmel and we’ll keep our dollars here..

  18. bob says:

    Just spent the weekend in Monterey…even the Hyatt is dog friendly and even allows dogs at their outdoor cafe, supplies water bowls, and has a dog trail.

  19. Cyn says:

    I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS EXISTS! In this century, in this “progressive” forward thinking state, and in this sad economy I would think that any and all opportunity to “woo” tourists and local spenders alike would be welcome….and most people know that dog owners are usually happy to spend their dollars in dog-lovin’ (or at least toleratin’) establishments. The obvious example is nearby Carmel, and the business owners there are having the last laugh along with the fattest bank accounts. My kids live in Santa Cruz, and I was planning on taking my 2 dogs there next week for a couple of days. One dog is terminally ill and now I can’t even take her to see “her” girl and boy. She is extremely close to my daughter who is a full time UCSC student. All we wanted to do was to spend some time together, maybe go to a beach which is her (the dog’s) favorite playground. I’m appalled and thoroughly disgusted that Santa Cruz tolerates certain sub-canine behaviored humans, yet mistreats our beloved dogs this way. Most dogs, obviously at least the ones that people travel with, are far better behaved than children. When was the last time you went to a (dog tolerant) restaurant and found dogs screaming, whining, or running around under tables? Shame on you, Santa Cruz. Shame on those who promoted such an un-American activity and allowed this to happen.

  20. Georgia says:

    If you spend lots of time at any recreational area you wonder why we don’t ban people and allow dogs in these places. I’ve seen unbelievable amounts of trash left at the dog beach and nature trails I take my dog for walks at, including dirty diapers, used prophylatics, papers from fast food restaurants, cups, plastic bags, paper plates, the list goes on & on. My personal favorite is plastic poop bags for dogs with poop in them, just left on the ground for someone else to pick up, and yes often times you see piles of dog poop that some PIG like human just left there for someone else to pick up.

    Our dogs can’t do anything to make people think they are worthy of being involved in the human world, only we humans can do that.

    I am about to move to the Santa Cruz area from Huntington Beach, CA. There is a great dog beach here, but there is human trash everywhere. I see people who come here for a run on the beach and let their dogs run behind them, the dog stops and poops, but the human is ahead and never sees it. I pick this poop up, continue my walk and hand the nasty bag to the offending runner on their way back down the beach, I can’t tell you how many times I have been cussed at when I explain that if we don’t clean our mess up they will close the beach to our dogs.

    If Santa Cruz has a ban on dogs it’s not because of the dogs, it’s because nasty people don’t clean up after their dogs. It’s up to us who care about our wonderful pets to point it out to the human pigs that they are the reason our poor dogs get banned from areas and we are loosing more and more areas where we are allowed to take our dogs.

  21. RW says:

    Another thing to keep an eye on in Santa Cruz. There are virtually no hotels that accept dogs in Santa Cruz. We usually stay in a vacation home. Now the Board of Supervisors wants to ban vacation homes in Santa Cruz County! So not only will you not be able to walk downtown, but there may not be anywhere to stay overnight!

  22. JK says:

    We have simply stopped visiting Santa Cruz and now go to Carmel, Capitola, Aptos and Half Moon Bay instead. We consistently advise all of our friends visiting the Bay Area to do the same. A real shame. Santa Cruz could be a nice place to visit.

  23. Debbie says:

    We go to SC close to every weekend and use to “enjoy” ourselves. Now we’ve acquired a rescue dobe and don’t leave home without her. We’ve taken our bikes in the past and have enjoyed riding through the city and along the beach while visiting the lighthouse. Guess all of this even the though of the Friday night concerts will come to a stop. What a stupid city ordance. Have you seriuosly taken a look at the homeless down there by “Pizza My heart”? Have you ever had a dog beg for money? Came close to getting hit by a bicycler, Hmmmm maybe should ban those too! You really don’t realize how big the dog business has became – imagine the shirts, hats and glasses you could see for pups!! I know I’d buy one!

  24. SN says:

    My husband and I didn’t know about the ban when we stopped in Santa Cruz several years ago. I was carrying our then puppy, who clocked in at 4 lbs at the time and we were stopped on the street and told she couldn’t be there, even if I was carrying here. We took ourselves and our money elsewhere and have never been back. We love Carmel, and so do our dogs.

  25. DR says:

    Thanks to this website, I know I cannot bring my small rescue dog to Santa Cruz! I visit my son and granddaughter’s ocassionally, but I know to do all my shopping before I come! What a silly law that only hurts businesses. If people aren’t picking up after their animals poop or keeping their pets agressions in check, then site the owners! Most of us do a good job….

  26. Bette says:

    This is a deep disappointment. It greatly lessens any interest I may have had in going to Santa Cruz.

    My tourist dollars will go to a dog friendly community.

  27. Ouch, I’ve been living in SF for several years and I’ve been to Santa Cruz many times but I didn’t notice this dog ban. What about a local proposition to ban this dog ban???

  28. Whitney says:

    Please sign the petition!

    October 2010:
    The Downtown Association voted 8-1 in FAVOR of allowing dogs Downtown. It then went to the City Council. For some unknown reason, the city council took it off the agenda until after the election in November 2010.

    Please sign the petition that will be submitted to City Council (or the Silly Council as I like to call them).

  29. GariRae says:

    Thanks for the notice of the ban. I was looking to spend 3-4 days wandering about Santa Cruz instead of going back to Monterey. But with the ban, I certainly won’t be visiting there. For me, checking out a city’s cafes, galleries, and urban life is as important as taking my dog hiking. So, I’ll just stick to those communities who understand that dogs are a family member. I don’t need to take my dog into Nordstroms, but I certainly would like to sit outside a cafe and have a muffin without having to lock up my dog in the car. Jeez!

  30. jbmc says:

    We are traveling from Florida this summer to CA. We wanted to spend a day in Santa Cruz with our 8yr old Sheltie but with the dog ban our itinerary has changed. I will not contribute to the Santa Cruz city council’s insane rules. I thought Florida had some crazy dog laws but this is the worst I’ve seen, especially with such a liberal city.

  31. Scott says:

    I live in San Jose and would spend weekends in Santa Cruz, now we go to Los Gatos very friendly to dogs.

  32. Marie says:

    We live in dog friendly Huntington Beach and spend time in dog friendly Belmont Shores. We vacation in Santa Cruz to spend time with our UCSC son. I was also shocked that the main downtown area does not allow dogs. After seeing people drunk in public and panhandling, I would say dogs would be better behaved than some people. I quess we will be spending our tourist dollars in Capitola!

  33. Jim says:

    Is this dog ban policy still in effect?
    I remember Santa Cruz when people were not anti-dogs.
    I have not been there in some time – I may never go back
    if this is how Santa Cruz has “evolved”.
    This ban sounds like a good example of local discrimination and a
    potential class action law suit.

  34. Denise says:

    We just visited Santa Cruz this past weekend, since my son will probably attend UCSC (no dogs allowed on campus – even in your car–we just “hid” him, as we drove around the campus). We went downtown to get something to eat, and walked around the street, not knowing about the dog ban! We even walked him into the Verizon store, assuming it was ok, since it was Santa Cruz. No one said anything. Btw our dog is a German Shepherd, so it’s not difficult to see him. I guess it just depends upon who you run into. Makes me so sad!!!

  35. Wendy McClure says:

    I live in San Francisco and when I need a quick getaway I go to Carmel. Recently I thought I’d try someplace new and thought of Santa Cruz but now that I know they don’t allow dogs I’m going back to Carmel. A city that bans dogs is no place for me!! What, are they crazy? I never heard of such a thing. Unbelievable!! A city that bans dogs will not get one cent of my money. Too bad Santa Cruz I have money, lots of money.

  36. Candy says:

    Glad I found this. We were considering a second home here. Just got a listing from the realtor. Anyway, we will not go on vacations without our dogs so Santa Cruz is out!

  37. jesse says:

    i was about to book a hotel room in santa cruz, but i noticed the ban. i’ve always preferred the cruz over Monterrey and Carmel, but i’d rather sacrifice a little to include my dog on vacation. sorry pacific ave, my dollars are going elsewhere.

  38. Whitney says:

    Please sign the petition to persuade the City Council to allow dogs in Downtown Santa Cruz.


  39. Ken says:

    Dog ban in town! We’ll go to Monteray instead. My dog is cleaner, friendlier and smells better then 1/2 the people walking the streets in down town Santa Cruz.

  40. Debbie says:

    Most dogs are cleaner than people. Santa Cruz City never power washes their downtown sidewalks, they are disgustingly black with all the dirt from people, not dogs. It’s an terrible ban, that never should have existed.

  41. Zeph says:

    Glad I came across this while looking for a dog-friendly hotel to stay in for three nights vacation. Skipping Santa Cruz altogether, I guess.

  42. Sandra says:

    We had no idea that dogs were not allowed in downtown Santa Cruz. As we entered the shopping area, a young skateboarder warned us that we may be ticketed because of our leashed dogs. The crazy thing is that we were just moments from entering a pet boutique. We took our chances and shopped at the pet boutique, but then promptly left the area. The weather was far too warm to leave our dogs in the car. We’re heading to the SC area this weekend. Once again, shopping downtown will not be in our itinerary. I feel bad for the merchants….this is no time to be losing customers – two or four-legged.

  43. Darlene says:

    I am house-sitting for my son in Felton, and fortunately I read about the ban on dogs in town! Needless to say, my little dog and I will not make Santa Cruz a stop on our trip. What a disappointment. In my hometown, Sebastopol, cafes with outside seating allow dogs. How nice it would have been to visit SC! Too narrow-minded for me. My dog behaves better than many people. And glad someone mentioned the filth at Mitchell’s Cove Beach. We won’t be visiting that beach either!

  44. says:

    UPDATE – July 20, 2011 – The Santa Cruz City Council voted 4-2 to allow dogs in downtown starting by Sept 1, 2011 – see updated story

  45. [...] to just keep on driving on I-5″. We don’t do this often. On the west coast, we criticized Santa Cruz’s ban on dogs on downtown sidewalks. Due to bad publicity hurting tourism and downtown businesses with pet owners Santa Cruz repealed [...]

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