No Dogs Allowed: County Officials Crack Down on CdM Farmers Market

posted: August 29th, 2012 04:18 am | 12Comments

The Corona del Mar Farmers market is the go-to gathering spot on Saturday mornings in the village, where friends bump into one another while loading shopping bags with fresh eggs, flowers and fruit — often walking their dogs past signs that say No Dogs are allowed.

Those dogs violate health codes, and this summer, they caught the eye of a county health inspector.

The inspector “was concerned”, said Mike Haller, program manager for the Orange County Environmental Health Agency’s Food Protection Program. “There were a lot of dogs.”

Based on the July 7 visit, health inspectors issued a notice of violation to the market manager, Rick Heil. As a follow up, they held a hearing on July 24, where they presented a slide show of the dog violations in the market.

“The inspector had taken photos of violations,” Haller said. “There were different breeds of dogs. One picture we have had three dogs. To our perspective, this is a certified farmers market that’s kind of being overrun with dogs.”

At the hearing Heil admitted there was a problem, Haller said. Market manager Heil arrived at the hearing with drawings of the market and plans to add signs at all seven entrances, as well as fliers that he will hand out to those with dogs inside the market.

Because some residents walk dogs through the market but aren’t actually shopping there, some dogs may always be present. But shoppers with dogs won’t be allowed, Heil agreed, according to Haller.

“He’s taking active, managerial responsibility,” Haller said. “He is in full compliance now.”

The California Retail Food Code, which is modeled on the Food and Drug Administration’s food code, does not permit animals around food in retail establishments, Haller said. Dogs must be 20 feet away from farmers market food stalls.

“The law just wants to protect the food from cross-contamination,” Haller said in an interview earlier this year. “Dogs want to go where the food is. There can be problems when they shake, when the fur flies, or they put their nose into things.”

County health inspectors enforce the rules, making regular inspections as well as inspections after a receiving a complaint.

The Corona del Mar Farmers Market received notices for violations for dogs in October 2007 and in January 2010, Haller said. Until this summer, when a complaint was made, the market had been considered in compliance.

In an interview last spring, Heil said that enforcing the no-dog rules in the Corona del Market is difficult because it’s on a city-owned lot, and dog walkers passing by have every right to do so.

“If I see them and I know they’re a shopper, I give them a flier” that explains the no-dog rules, Heil said in that interview. “Unless the dog is off leash, I can’t tell them to get the heck out. They are Corona del Mar people, and they do what they want to do.”

In a telephone interview this week, Heil said the health department was “extremely happy with the way things are going.”

“They seem to have the pulse,” he said. “They seem to be the experts of the farmers market.”

He added that he wished the person who made the complaint to the health department “would have enough guts to come to my face.”

Haller said Heil is correct, and that after paying a fee of $358 for the July violation, and after agreeing in the hearing to make changes, the market again is in compliance.

But if dogs return to the market, the market’s future could be in jeopardy.

Inspectors will return for surprise visits, and the market is on notice for a year, Haller said. Heil will be charged $103 per hour for the hearing and all inspectors’ time, Haller said.

“The incentive is to be in compliance,” he said. “If they’re not in compliance, it can be very costly.”

Another violation likely would mean another notice and hearing, Haller said. Repeat violations after that wold be considered misdemeanors, he said.

“After that it goes to the D.A. for prosecution,” he said. “It could even shut down the market. There are some provisions in the code for jail time” but that is unlikely, he said.

“We want to see a pattern of compliance,” he said. “We want to see sustained compliance.”

An inspector likely will return to the market before the end of the year.

12 Responses to “No Dogs Allowed: County Officials Crack Down on CdM Farmers Market”



August 29th, 2012

Seriously? LIGHTEN UP! Three dogs does not constitute a phrase "overrun by dogs". I go there every weekend I am around and who cares if there are dogs? I don't walk around the hood looking for things to complain about. Whoever complained needs to get a hobby. It's an outdoor market, there are toxic, cancer causing fumes from all the cars everywhere so the dogs are nothing compared to that. What's next? A dress code? Age requirment? No open toed shoes? No unshaven legs on women? This is above and beyond what is important. Whoever complained needs to go live in a big city (Chicago for example) and he/she will realize when they return that everything about CDM is a blessing.


August 29th, 2012

Oh sure, the farmers market is set up in a parking lot where cars sit and drip and leak oil and other fluids onto the asphalt and someone is concerned about dogs? Good grief.

Know the law

August 29th, 2012

As stated in the article they CAN NOT STOP you from walking your dog right down the center of the farmers market. It is a public parking lot on public property. Solution is you shop kid holds leash or husband etc. Also as stated in the article "They are Corona del Mar people, and they do what they want to do" you sir are correct.


August 29th, 2012

Thank goodness someone is finally noticing that CDM is overrun with dogs. You can't go to a restaurant without barking dogs in the patios, you trip over them at Albertsons and the bank. I don't want dogs where I am eating or buying food. And I agree with the other poster - the laws don't apply to some dog owners in CDM.

CdM Local

August 29th, 2012

DUUUUUMB. It's an outdoor market in a town where people are out walking on the weekends - with their dogs! Why are so many people so uptight? They're dogs. Harmless.


August 29th, 2012

Sounds like a waste of time and county resources to me. We should outlaw people too because they might sneeze on the food.


August 30th, 2012

Believe it or not, Corona del Mar is a "city" NOT a private "country club". Cities (counties, states) have laws that protect us. I too am sick of people taking their dogs to inappropriate places. That is why I stopped spending my $ in places that let the dog people do whatever they want.

doc R

August 30th, 2012

I, for one, am very happy that the county he is doing their job. Diseases carried by a dogs include: Tapeworm, round worm, Giardia, ringworm, Campylobacter, leptospirosis, ticks (Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), fleas, Cryptosporidium, Q fever, and salmonella. This is not to mention the smell and the hair!


August 30th, 2012

What a shame! of life's simple pleasures...anyone think about how this might effect the local farmers we support?...picture a parade of NON SHOPPING Dog's a shout out to budding about providing a service to hold the dogs while owners shop?...or a CDM resident might just do it for free! We know how blessed we are to live in Paradise!


August 30th, 2012

We all live together in a small community. While I have taken my dog almost every weekend to the farmers market, the California Retail Code uses FDA standards and I respect their role in our society. Will I shop less is the question. The answer is up to the shoppers.


August 31st, 2012

BLESSED TO STILL BE ALIVE--Until recently I did not realize the extreme health hazards of living in CDM. Now I know I am precariously close to death with fire pit smoke and dog-borne pestilent diseases. What will my vigilant neighbors find next?


September 1st, 2012

@Jamie I am sure u r an orange county person that hasn't been outside of orange county why don't u buckle up and relax cuz dogs r a companion to people and there r things that r much worse than dogs. Why don't we worry about pollution or education. By the way Corona Del Mar is a neighborhood inside Newport Beach. So if have a problem with dogs why don't u move to another city.

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