No Flip-Flop Rule in S. California Parks Triggers Outcry

The city of San Juan Capistrano has implemented a no flip-flops rule at Los Rios park and one other park, sparking an outcry among locals. (Courtesy Jennifer Willey)

Orange County, Calif., is famous for its sunny shores and beach identity, which makes flip-flops an essential fashion accessory in the area. However, one area in the county has set up a no flip-flops rule, sparking commotion from upset residents.

The city of San Juan Capistrano features a rule at the Los Rios Park that says flip-flops are not allowed. When the city's Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park opened in August, the park's project manager decided to include the "no flip-flops" rule there as well.

According to Cathy Salcedo, the city's executive services manager, the rule was put in place to address safety concerns.

"It's a safety recommendation from the makers of the playground equipment," she said.

The "no flip-flops" rule is posted near playground equipment manufactured by Barbara Butler Artist-Builder Inc. Salcedo said the equipment's manufacturers advised against wearing flip-flops in the playground. A spokeswoman for Barbara Butler Artist-Builder said she could not answer any questions about the company or its products.

"Safety is always the number one issue for the city," Salcedo said. "When we're doing any kind of project, public safety is always a factor, and the project manager had that at the forefront of his thinking."

The recent outpouring of opposition toward the rule prompted San Juan Capistrano officials to address the issue.

"The city attorney is reviewing it and will either modify or change the wording, but probably modify it to make it more of a safety thing," Salcedo said.

Orange County Parks spokeswoman Marisa O'Neil said that the agency had no idea that the rule against flip-flops was a feature at the two parks in San Juan Capistrano. O'Neil said that she is not aware of similar restrictions at county parks.

"Any kind of decision like that would come from our board of supervisors, and we would follow their direction," she said.

O'Neil said that since Los Rios Park and Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park are city parks, the county parks agency has no say in the park rules and guidelines there.

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