A week after the Los Gatos Parks Commission recommended that the Town Council adopt an off-leash dog pilot program, 7-9 a.m. at Bachman and 9-11 a.m. at Live Oak Manor parks, opponents are circulating a letter and a petition against the controversial proposal.
An email sent to this publication tells recipients to email Council members if they're against the plan, sign the petition and attend the 7 p.m., June 18 meeting at Town Hall, 110 E. Main St., when the plan will either be adopted or denied. The message further encouraged those opposed to the program to wear a red shirt to the meeting "so that we can easily show numbers that are opposed."
The email instructs its recipients with the following: "If you are opposed to this pilot program, it is CRUCIAL that you email the town council in advance. The message is simple: 'I am opposed to all off-leash dog program in Los Gatos. It is not safe for anyone and it will change the nature of our neighborhood parks.' "
Those asked to be emailed are Los Gatos Mayor Steve Rice, Vice Mayor Barbara Spector, Council members Steve Leonardis, Diane McNutt, Joe Pirzynski and Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Chief Scott Seaman.
"Please call this week and ask how the police department intends to support issues with off-leash dogs at parks," the email further advises.
The anti unleashed-dog petition states that, "While we may love dogs, we DO NOT WANT 'Off Leash Dog Hours' at Bachman Park, or any of the Los Gatos neighborhood parks for the following reasons:
"Off-leash dogs in an unfenced area present a safety issue. Dog owners cannot control their off-leash dogs 100 percent of the time. Off-leash dog owners more often leave behind dog feces than do owners with leashed dogs.
"Off-leash dog hours will impact the peace and tranquility of our neighborhood. THERE ARE NO OTHER OFF-LEASH, UNFENCED DOG PARKS IN SANTA CLARA COUNTY. Bachman Park will become a magnet for off-leash dogs/owners, resulting in more traffic and parking problems in the neighborhood, not just from Los Gatos residents, but from all over the South Bay area.
"The Parks Department has stated that they cannot police off-leash dog hours ... it will be up to the dog owners. This situation is already out of control with off-leash dogs coming to Bachman Park at all hours. What will happen when it is legal?
"Town Council of Los Gatos, we urge you to vote down this proposal and keep Bachman Park dog-safe for families, children, and on-leash dogs, and free of increased traffic and parking problems in the neighborhood."
The petition, which as of Wednesday evening had 106 signatures, was created by a group calling itself "Citizens Against Off-Leash Dogs in Our Neighborhood Parks." Its goal is to reach 200 signatures. After supporters leave their name, email address and comments, which are recorded, it prompts you to donate between $2 and $500 to the petition host, which is ipetitions.com.
The town, with approximately 12,500 households, is said to have conservatively 9,000 canine friends residing within its boundaries.
at town parks through a public process that included
Following the meetings, this publication received several letters to the editor and either in favor or against the proposal. Those opposing the plan are worried about safety, liability and sanitary issues the plan would create. Those in favor say their pooch friends need a place to run loose and exercise and point to places like New York City, which has a dog off-leash program and San Carlos, which is testing a program that allows dogs to run free in public parks during certain hours. In San Francisco, a federal ranger tasered a man walking his dogs off-leash at Golden Gate National Park.
On June 5, the Parks Commission, following a recommendation from the Los Gatos Parks and Public Works Department, favored a six-month test program and only at two of the original three parks considered. La Rinconada Park was dropped from the plan.