Dog supporters continue barking for park

The push for a Los Altos dog park just won’t go away.

Supporters of a dog park plan to make yet another pitch at today’s Los Altos Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. This time, they are armed with the results of their own online survey – one they conducted after growing impatient with city officials who were in the process of developing their own survey.

The commission is scheduled to finalize the city’s survey at the meeting, according to Manny Hernandez, recreation and community services director.

“The commission survey will cover both off-leash and fenced dog parks,” he said.

Residents’ survey results

In the meantime, Los Altos resident and dog park supporter Nancy Bremeau said more than 350 responded to the resident-created survey. Among the findings:

• 49 percent of dog owners take their dogs to fenced-in dog parks.

• 37.5 percent take their dogs to parks with off-leash hours.

• 47.8 percent let their dogs roam off-leash regardless of park leash laws, if they deem the area to be safe.

• 24 percent would prefer off-leash hours to a fenced-in dog park.

• 67.6 percent would prefer a fenced-in dog park or would prefer a fenced-in park and off-leash hours.

• 84.7 percent think the city should build and maintain a fenced-in dog park.

“A fenced-in dog park is not only good for our dogs and their owners, it is good for the entire community,” Bremeau wrote in a letter to the commission. “Anywhere people gather, community happens. There are lots of people who don’t own dogs (like myself) but who like to go and watch all the activity at dog parks and interact with the dogs and their owners.”

Off-leash hours versus dedicated dog park

Bremeau noted that she is not recommending off-leash hours at city parks, calling that option “more controversial.” She said off-leash hours should not be a substitute for a fenced-in dog park.

She figured money collected from park in-lieu fees could fund “a small but attractive fenced-in dog park.”

Dog park supporter Catherine Stansbury said she plans to be at today’s commission meeting. The Los Altos native has eyed Lincoln Park off Foothill Expressway as an ideal site for a small dog park. Over the past several months, she has set up a table at the park and collected signatures in support of a fenced-in dog area.

Nearly four months ago, she presented a petition with more than 1,000 signatures to the commission. Commissioners formed a subcommittee to explore the idea. But dog park supporters were discouraged by subsequent discussion of off-leash hours rather than a fenced-in park.

“How can you have off-leash (hours) when city codes say no off-leash?” Stansbury said.

She believes that a small dog park would be easier for the city to maintain.

Stansbury was open to the idea of a dog park at a location other than Lincoln Park, pointing to current plans afoot for rebuilding Hillview Community Center and repositioning open-space uses in the civic center plaza.

“I’ll put the dog park wherever the city wants as long as we have a dog park,” she said. “The dog world is waiting.”

The Parks and Recreation Commission meeting is scheduled 7 p.m. today at Los Altos City Hall, 1 N. San Antonio Road.

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