Dog park protesters: Don’t fence us in

As Los Altos officials prepare to hold public workshops on fenced-in dog parks and off-leash hours, some residents living in proposed areas are voicing opposition.

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Courtesy of the City of Los Altos
Protesters hold signs with sayings like "Keep Lincoln Park green!" and "We love dogs!" represent citizens who oppose the possibility of a fenced-in dog park being considered by the Los Altos Parks and Recreation Commission. Suggested locations include McKenzie and south Lincoln parks.

A meet-and-greet event Saturday hosted by a proponent of a fenced-in dog area at Lincoln Park drew a counterprotest with residents carrying signs proclaiming “Don’t fence me in” and “Keep Lincoln Park green.” The residents, some of whom brought their dogs, made clear that they were not against dogs, but against a fenced-in area at Lincoln.

Catherine Stansbury, who has championed a “boutique” dog park the past three years at Lincoln Park, said she was hurt by what she claimed was verbal abuse from neighbors. Stansbury, who grew up in Los Altos Hills, said a fenced-in area creates a safe haven for dogs and encourages camaraderie among owners.

But neighbors fear increased traffic, noise and safety issues.

Following a 2018 online survey and months of discussion, a Parks and Recreation Commission subcommittee recommended fenced-in dog parks for McKenzie and south Lincoln parks. Off-leash hours have been considered at Hillview Baseball Field and Heritage Oaks Park.

Resident Harry Guy suggested to commissioners that their process was flawed in seeking input on specific park sites.

“Are there any neighborhoods who would be in favor of a fenced-in dog park in their nearby park? My opinion – not a chance,” Guy wrote in a Jan. 8 letter. “I believe (the commission) should re-think their approach to identifying a location … for a fenced-in dog park, and instead, look initially for a much smaller public space that is not a neighborhood.”

The city of Los Altos has scheduled one-hour workshops 7-8 p.m. and 8-9 p.m. Feb. 12 in the Garden House at Shoup Park, 400 University Ave.; and 10-11 a.m. and 11 a.m. to noon Feb. 29 in the multipurpose room at Grant Park, 1575 Holt Ave.

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