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Carlsbad to open city’s third off-leash dog park

Carlsbad will officially open its third off-leash dog park at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Poinsettia Community Park, nearly two-thirds of an acre with agility equipment, grass, water fountains, shaded picnic spots and separate areas for large and small dogs.

More than 400 southwest Carlsbad residents signed a petition in 2014 asking the city to add an off-leash area for dogs at the park.

Parks and recreation officials initially developed a plan to build it on an interior grassy area. But regular park users objected to that site, which is often used for neighborhood picnics, play dates and special events. In response, city officials worked with the residents to pick a different area closer to the park’s main entrance.

The 42-acre Poinsettia park on Hidden Valley Road also has the city’s largest tennis complex, with 10 tennis courts, six pickleball courts, three baseball fields and a basketball court, all lighted. There’s a children’s playground, picnic areas with barbecues, restrooms, and 34 more parking spaces, including four electric-vehicle charging stations.

Carlsbad opened its first off-leash area, Ann D. L’Heureux Memorial Dog Park, in 2006 along Carlsbad Village Drive a few blocks east of El Camino Real. Its second opened in 2013 at Alga Norte Community Park, which includes an aquatics complex, a skate park and ballfields at Poinsettia Lane and Alicante Road.

Oceanside, Carlsbad’s neighbor to the north, has no city-maintained off-leash areas. The San Diego Humane Society operated a public 1-acre dog park on San Luis Rey Road for several years, but it is now closed.

Encinitas, the city to the south, has several off-leash parks, including the 2-acre Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park on Santa Fe Drive. Nearby Vista has off-leash hours at South Buena Vista Park, and San Marcos has three dog parks.

Anyone who wants to let their dogs out at the beach will have to head south to Del Mar. Dogs are allowed off leash from dawn to 8 a.m. from June 16 through Labor Day, and all day the rest of the year, in the North Beach area at the mouth of the San Dieguito River, near the Solana Beach border. A leash is required after 8 a.m. during the summer.