Restoration efforts could put The City’s dogs on a short leash

A proposal to require dog owners to leash their pets at two city parks, in an effort to help revitalize San Francisco’s natural habitat, has some residents wondering where they will take their dogs.

Under the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan, a road map to guide The City’s restoration efforts, 14 acres of existing off-leash dog play areas at Bernal Hill, on Bernal Heights Boulevard, and McLaren Shelly Loop, on the corner of Visitacion Avenue and Mansell Street, would be closed while four other parks would be monitored to see if dogs are having a negative impact on the surrounding sensitive environment.

The areas of both Bernal Hill and McLaren Shelly Loop were chosen for closure to prevent further erosion and to help indigenous plants grow, according to officials. There are about 118 acres of city parkland designated for off-leash dog use currently, according to the Recreation and Park Department.

Sally Stevens, a member of the San Francisco Dog Owner’s Group, said the 14 acres consist of about 15 percent of the off-leash dog areas in The City.

If the Recreation and Park Department determines that the four other parks are being negatively impacted by dogs as well, up to 80 percent of the off-leash dog play areas in The City could be affected, according to Stevens. There are 12,000 registered dogs in The City

“I don’t think the commission really addressed the concerns of the dog community, in the sense that they talked about Bernal Hill a lot, but up to 80 percent of the legal dog off-leash areas are at risk,” she said.

During a two-hour public hearing on Monday several dog owners addressed the Recreation and Park Commission about the plan. While most dog owners voiced their concerns about closing off the two parks, others expressed their support of the project.

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