When Jenna Burgdorf sat at a picnic table enjoying San Juan Capistrano's new dog park recently, the 20-year-old had no idea she was violating park rules regarding footwear. The culprit? Her thongs.
The regulation is based on recommendations from a state insurance agency that protects the city from legal liabilities, but members of the five-person Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Commission want it overturned.
''I'm a southern California girl. The only time I get out of my flip-flops is if it's snowing outside,'' said Jenny Friess, commission vice-chairwoman. ''I don't think we need to really be telling people what to wear on their feet.''
Commissioner Steve Behmerwohld said the commission should have had a chance to review the rules before they were posted.
''So if a woman goes out there in stiletto heels, that's more safe than somebody in flip-flops?'' he asked.
The city has already paid for a sign that lists the regulation, and city employees say they back keeping it. Thongs have been prohibited at Los Rios Park for at least a few years, said city manager Karen Brust. No one enforces the ban, but it has saved the city from at least one potentially costly mishap involving a woman who filed a claim after a piece of playground surfacing at Los Rios Park punctured one of her thongs. The city attorney's office refused to pay the woman anything, citing the ban.
Miss Burgdorf said the rule was ridiculous. Even commissioners admit to violating it: Mr Behmerwohld and Ms Friess said they wore thongs at the August 17 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the park. ''And I made it out alive, so it's OK,'' Ms Friess said.