The Los Gatos Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to direct town staff to proceed with a dog off-leash pilot program at town parks through a public process.
According to Town Manager Greg Larson, two to three community forums will be hosted through April and May to get the public’s input and ideas for such a program as well as get an ultimate recommendation from the town’s Parks Commission.
The public will set guidelines for the pilot-program such as selecting three to four town parks to host unleashed dogs as well as select the amount of limited hours per day dogs will be allowed to be on the loose.
More than two dozen community members came out to Monday's meeting in support of the program with not a single resident speaking in opposition.
According to a staff report, Bachman, Belgatos, La Rinconada and Live Oak Manor parks have been identified as being suitable for hosting the program due to sufficient size and recreational programming demands.
The Council is expected to receive the recommendation from the Parks Commission at either its June 4 or June 18 meeting, Larson said.
The town, with approximately 12,500 households, is said to have around 9,000 dogs living within its limits.
At a Feb. 6 meeting, the Council requested that topic of off-leash dog areas be brought back for discussion by the end of March.
On Feb. 7, the Parks Commission directed town staff to prepare a proposal for an off-leash dog pilot program.
Other By Area cities that are exploring and have similar pilot programs in place are Burlingame, Cupertino, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo and Santa Cruz.
Rob Rennie, chairman of the Parks Commission, has said the issue surfaced because many Los Gatos dog owners love to give their pets free exercise and play time and the task becomes difficult when residents have more than one animal on a leash or they're elderly since they could get tied up together, which becomes dangerous to the pooches and the owners.
The town ranger, too, has been asking residents to keep their dogs leashed, even when they're not being disruptive and just playing, Rennie said.