Sumner beach is probably Christchurch’s nicest, if not at least most popular beach.

The Christchurch City Council (CCC) has, in my view, quite sensibly placed restrictions on where dogs can be on the beach, giving a relatively small area of dog free beach, around where the lifeguards patrol, and leaving at least three quarters of it as “dog friendly” where owners can walk their dog.  However, there is a wee issue, as pointed out by this article in the Christchurch Press.

As a dog owner I think they have this balance right.  Unfortunately some councils ban dogs outright, which I think is rather one sided, or some just have overly restrictive rules (such as Auckland).  Anyway, so CCC has it more or less right, except for one thing, which the article points out: It’s not enforced.  There are plenty of signs, and it’s a well known rule, but despite this, on my daily drive past the beach I see dozens of dogs in the dog free area off their leash.  Now in the article the CCC claims “they cant be there 24 hours a day”, well actually you can (almost).  Let’s do the maths on this:

  • The fine is $300 (that includes GST, so that’s $266 to the council)
  • Let’s say the dog control officer is paid $50,000 a year (so that’s more or less $1,000 a week, or $200 a day).
  • Lets say in addition to the $200 a day, there is a further $200 a day cost to get the officer there, etc.
  • Lets also assume that 20% of the people will write in and get off the fine.  I can’t see why anyone would, but let’s add that in anyway, just to be sure we cover everything.
  • Lets assume the dog officer only works 6 hours a day on the beach, and the other two are for travel, breaks etc.

So we have a total cost of $400 a day, and $212 per fine issued (which is 80% of $266 – the 20% being the estimate proportion of people getting off the fine).

So if they issue TWO fines a day (or one every 3 hours) they cover their costs.  If they issue one an hour (for 6 hours a day) they make $876 that day, or just over $4300 in a week.  In fact it would be EASY to issue three fines an hour during peek holiday times (3 weeks over summer = 15 days) plus a 12 weekends over summer (24 days), again being VERY conservative with how many good weather days there are each summer.  Anyway, with these numbers the council MAKES over $133,000 after costs have been deducted!  EASY money.

But what happens when people start following the rules and no longer have their dogs on the beach without a leash?  Well cut back to random visits, which would still more than cover costs (one short visit, one ticket more than pays for itself).

If this was MY business I know what I would do.  If it was anyone-else’s business, with a captive customer base (i.e. those breaking the by-law) with a natural monopoly (i.e. no one else can fine them) then we know what would happen.  But no, CCC don’t see it that way.

Black and White Version: Do the math CCC, just enforce the by-law! (Shows how UN-business like CCC are!)

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