S.F. parks’ dog days could be dog hours

A proposed off-leash dog policy for San Francisco parks is recharging the decade-old debate about how to accommodate the more than 100,000 dogs in The City.

A Recreation and Park Department committee is hammering out details of a possible “timed-use off-leash” dog policy that could open up a number of city parks to off-leash dogs during certain times of the day. Dogs are currently allowed to roam free off their leash in 29 designated dog play areas in various parks around San Francisco.

The policy discussion comes as dog activists are fighting the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s decision to prohibit off-leash dogs on a popular portion of Ocean Beach and Crissy Field. The off-leash ban is necessary between the months of July and May to protect the western snowy plovers found in these areas, according to the GGNRA.

The GGNRA’s decision prompted members of the Ocean Beach Dog Owners Group to ask The City’s Animal Control and Welfare Commission to recommend to the Board of Supervisors a resolution that supports taking back the land under GGNRA, which The City had deeded to this division of the National Park Service.

Dog activists say the GGNRA ban creates a larger problem: that by removing valuable off-leash dog play space, more dog owners are forced to use the already crowded dog play areas at city parks.

The Dog Advisory Committee is expected to come up with a recommendation for a timed-use off-leash policy in January. It would ultimately require approval by the Recreation and Park Commission. The committee could suggest to drop the idea altogether.

“I think our park resources should be shared resources,” said Suzanne Valente, founder of the Ocean Beach Dog Owners Group. “It’s a way of giving everybody what they need while trying to utilize the resources to their fullest.”

Opponents of the policy argue that allowing dogs to roam free in the parks would pose health and safety hazards and also deteriorate the condition of the parkland.

Other cities have some form of a timed-use off-leash practice, including New York City, which has used one for more than 20 years, according to Scott Reese, superintendent of Recreation and Park operations. Common timed-use off-leash practices allow dogs to roam unleashed at parks from the time they open to 8 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. to park closing.

“Dog activists have been very active in bringing forth interesting concepts to accommodate their pets within the urban fabric,” Reese said. “We’ve got very little space in this town,” he added.

jsabatini@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Currey (30) tallied 26 points and seven assists at Monday night’s game against the Lakers. (Chris Victorio for the S.F. Examiner).
Warriors overcome 19-point deficit to stun defending-champion Lakers 115-113

Ladies and gentlemen, the Golden State Warriors are officially back. Stephen Curry… Continue reading

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

Most Read