HALF MOON BAY (KPIX) – Complaints from some beachgoers about horse poop at a popular Half Moon Bay beach has forced City Council members to step in to find a solution.
City leaders said they want to make changes to Sea Horse Ranch’s contract, which expires in 2020. In particular, they want to address the manure issue as well as erosion.
The business, which has been around for decades, uses Poplar Beach for horse tours.
Beachgoers have complained to city staff and on social media sites about the horse manure on the beach.
On Yelp, one reviewer wrote: “You will enjoy his beach if you don’t mind walking on horse poo poo sand.”
But Sea Horse Ranch Executive Director Willa Chapman said their contract with the city requires them to only pick up the horse poop at the exit and entrance of Poplar Beach, and not on the beach itself. She said it is actually the city’s responsibility to clean up the beach since it owns the property.
Yet, she said, they clean up after their horses on the beach five days a week.
“We’ve been doing way more than the contract requires us to do,” said Chapman. It’s actually the city that has failed to live up to its obligation under the contract. I understand it’s a little naive to assume politicians are going to admit they make a mistake.”
“Clearly it is the city’s responsibility,” said Half Moon Bay City Manager Bob Nisbet. “But I think others can argue that it’s not good for anyone for horse manure being left on the beaches.”
Nisbet said he believes a solution can be worked out between City Council members and Sea Horse Ranch, and their intention is not to terminate the ranch’s contract.
The issue came up back in 2009, when the ranch’s license up for renewal. The equestrian community came out in force, and kept city leaders back then from keeping Sea Horse Ranch off Poplar Beach.
“It’s amazing to see the horses out there,” said Melissa Chaidez, who lives steps from Poplar Beach. “It’s an amazing thing, that you know, doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
Chapman said she told city staff she would hire a full-time pooper-scooper, but she’s afraid they changes they make could destroy her business and the tourism it brings to Half Moon Bay.
She said Sea Horse Ranch rakes in more than $10 million from tourists each year.
“This is a piece of culture, which is vanishing,” Chapman said.
“It would heartbreaking, it would really be heartbreaking, and some really amazing people would lose their jobs,” said Chaidez.
City leaders will continue negotiating with Chapman, and report back to City Council members with possible solutions in six months.