Protesters bark about Golden Gate National Recreation Area leash law 

Anti-leash-law protests reached a new peak at a Golden Gate National Recreation Area open house Monday, with one supervisor even suggesting The City should take the park land back if proposed regulations are enforced.

Supervisor John Avalos yelled his comments to a boisterous crowd of more than 100 protesters gathered outside the open house, some clad in dog costumes and carrying signs with slogans such as “Yes we canine.”

“Take it back! Take it back!” the crowd responded.

“What’s important is that we have a public space that works for us,” Avalos said.

The open house was intended to provide a venue for public comments on a proposal to radically slash where dogs can roam in 21 federal Bay Area parks.

The draft proposal cuts the space where dogs can wander without a leash by at least half at Fort Funston, Ocean Beach and Crissy Field, and it does not allow any off-leash areas in the five remaining San Francisco federal parks.

Avalos is not the first to suggest reclaiming GGNRA land.

In 1975, The City transferred Fort Funston and other city-owned park lands to the federal government with the provision that they be used for recreation and park purposes.

In 2001, the National Park Service tried to enforce leash laws that already existed but had been ignored. Since there was an informal Pet Policy lingering from 1979 that implied dogs could roam free, then-Supervisor Mark Leno authored a resolution to take the land back if GGNRA got rid of that policy.

The resolution passed.

A judge ruled that GGNRA would have to create an impact statement before enforcing leash laws, which led the agency to its current proposal.

GGNRA officials and other park users argue that the definition of “recreation” is not restricted to dog-walking.

GGNRA spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet said at the open house that if The City did try to reclaim the land, it would be “between them and Congress.”

In the meantime, the GGNRA has collected more than 800 comments online. The public comment period has been extended to May 29.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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Sunday, Sep 14, 2014

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