(Photo credit: FluxFactory via Getty)
Changes to a beloved dog park are pitting Sacramento residents against the city government.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the city is about to begin enforcing leash requirements at city dog parks. Over the next few weeks, signs will be placed letting dog parents know that off-leash dogs are strictly prohibited. At one park in particular, Curtis Park’s Sierra 2 Center, dog parents are vocalizing their displeasure. One resident, John Malin, told reporters, “I have a hard time believing anybody’s gonna follow that.”
Who Really Owns the Dog Park?
To complicate matters further, the city says that Sierra 2 isn’t actually for dogs. Apparently, the park is an “off-the-books dog park.” Although the grassy field was cleared for dog use over 20 years ago, it was never intended to be a proper dog park. In an official statement, the city of Sacramento said, “The park in its current state does not meet the requirements for a dog park for off-leash use and continued use presents health and safety issues that (Youth, Parks, Community & Enrichment) must address.”
Specifically, a spokesperson for the parks department said the park lacks proper fencing and is the wrong size for a dog park. The dog park is also right next to a fenced-off playground. While dog parents see this as an added perk, families think having dogs roam around freely presents an unneeded hazard.
Recently, the city has gotten more complaints about off-leash dogs in the park, making the matter urgent. Gabby Miller from the parks department said, “It’s hard: I called it a dog park, but it’s not. The grass area that’s being used for dog training, it’s sports fields. It’s for soccer.”
Notwithstanding the complaints, community dog parents have built a community around Sierra 2. During the summer, dozens of dogs can be seen frolicking in the grass while parents chat in lawn chairs and soak up the California sun.
Voting for Pro-Dog Candidates
Not surprisingly, the proposed changes are not getting a warm welcome from dog parents. Many say that if Sierra 2 is closed, they’ll have to find another spot for their dogs. And some say that such a decision will affect their choices during the next election.
Mark Holtsman regularly brings his dogs to Sierra 2. Concerning the future changes, he said, “I’ve told everybody here: I vote, I pay taxes. If they can’t see the value this park has to the people that live around here, then we’ll find someone who does. Democracy.”
As to why the city doesn’t just put up fences and turn Sierra 2 into a dog park, Holtsman said, “The signs are cheaper.”
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