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Petition Opposes Off-Leash Dogs

A week after Parks Commission recommends approval of plan to allow canines to run loose at two town public parks, group begins signature drive against it.

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.

Jon Lambert June 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Thank you Sheila for writing this article. For those interested in opposing this pilot program please write to the Town Council at: council@losgatosca.gov Please also sign the petition which can be found at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-off-leash-dogs-at-bachman-park/
Alejandro Arnaiz June 14, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I believe it is all about learning to share and doing that in with structure. Dogs are part of our town and deserve the right to run free every now and then. If the program is put together properly (i.e. bags to dispose feces and trash cans available, rules, etc.), it will be in the interest of dog owners to preserve the pilot and make it work (as in, respect the guidelines). The arguments made for those opposing are weak, as any dog on leash can drop feces, and any dog might run loose. Rather than simply opposing, they should offer options that allow everyone to share our space. Shall we oppose letting kids run free at parks too? They can also be at risk of running into the street or peeing on the bushes. The solution is not prohibition, but structure and civic responsibility.
Jeffrey Bachman June 14, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Folks, there is already an off-leash dog park in Los Gatos. It is called "your backyard". All you need is one untrained dog to get the lawsuits started. Let the biting begin!!
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz June 14, 2012 at 03:50 PM
YES FINALLY I CAN LEAVE A COMMENT! I do think that one would know the character of their Dog & know if their dog could go without a leash & behave. If not please take on the responsibility & the consequences!
buenavista June 14, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I used to take my kids to Bachmann Park when they were young, I would not have done so if there were dogs running loose. I don't like strange dogs sticking there wet noses on my hands or up my crotch. I don't like sitting on grass that has been pooped or pee-ed on, even if the poop was picked up. It's just gross. Dogs should get to run, they love it! Attention all dog owners, if you want your dog to run, run with it on a leash on the trail. If it poops or pees there it won't be in spot where someone wants to enjoy a picnic later that day.
Nick Talesfore June 14, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Bachman Park is an idyllic neighborhood park. It comes with a jungle gym play-set to encourage parents living in the Almond Grove / Glen Ridge area or other areas close by to come to it with their young children. Since it has no public restrooms it was setup for local residents 7 neighbors. The primary uses it has and was intended for when it was built are having young children birthday parties and attracting parents and their children playing catch and occasionally you’ll see a picnic or two on the lawn. The PLAN of turning loose unleashed dogs, possibly from out of the area, is just not a responsible or well thought out plan. Unfortunately is being pushed by a vocal politically connected few. Add to this the influx of traffic with added parking which will disrupt this quiet narrow street neighborhood. Plus with no over sight by the town on policing the hours or users actions and you have receipt for disaster with the strong possibility of injury to children, park users and pets. There are other parks, near-by, set up for this. E.G. There is a beautiful Off-Leash Dog Park in Campbell’s on Dell Ave. A solution to this is to design in a fenced off-leashed area in the new Lark Ave & University Ave Sports Field. Please voice your opinion on this ill formed and thought out plan!
Mary F. Lucia June 14, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Bachman Park was established many years ago by neighbors. The original playground built by neighbors was even featured on the cover of Sunset magazine. This park is frequented primarily by residents that walk to enjoy. Aside from the dog/people issues already stated the town needs to access the traffic, parking and garbage issues a pilot will create once the news gets out around the county. I am a dog owner and have lived directly across from this park for nearly 30 years and would like to remain a peaceful neighborhood park as it was intended.
Jesse Ducker June 14, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Lots of cities/communities exist in the Bay Area with off-leash parks and do just fine. When done right, they don't bring in "scary" outsiders or cause a disturbance. Children can play in them and enjoy them just fine. Let's not trot out the usual boogie-men here.
Isabella Rennie June 14, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I would like to comment not on the merit of the off leash pilot, but on the issue of integrity: In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one's actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy – from Wikipedia. I have read the petition and comments of people who signed it. I was puzzled and quite frankly disturbed by the fact that some of the people advocating against the off leash hours are the same people we see almost daily in a park with their lovely pooches running off leash and enjoying a game of frisbee or just playing with other off leash “offenders”. I understand that people have various concerns when it comes to this issue, some because of the bad personal experiences in the past, some- because they live near the park and don’t want –“other “ people to come and inundate “their” parks and streets with cars and evil dogs, etc. etc. etc. All these are legitimate concerns. An extensive research that went into drafting a pilot proposal addresses all these issues in a well thought – out way. But regardless of how you feel about the issue – it is not a reason to compromise your integrity… My message is simple: let’s wear honesty and consideration for other people’s needs instead of selfishness and hypocrisy to the Council Meeting. And lets remain civil and tolerant to each other regardless of the outcome.
Sandra Vaurs June 14, 2012 at 09:31 PM
If the previous blogger wants honesty, how about naming names? Who are the "some of the people advocating against the off leash hours are the same people we see almost daily in a park with their lovely pooches running off leash and enjoying a game of frisbee or just playing with other off leash “offenders”. " Really! That accusation should be backed up with facts because I seriously doubt the veracity of it.
Sandra Vaurs June 14, 2012 at 09:36 PM
How about the vacant property at the end of Dittos Lane being used as a dog park? Our town council members paid a ridiculous three million dollars for unusable land and it is sitting unused. Of course, a fence would be a mandatory feature at any location for the safety of the dogs and their humans. Dogs are prone to chasing wildlife and there are deer commonly found there. Nobody wants to lose their dog in this way.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Welcome back, Irene! Glad you fixed your access issue. Thanks for the comment and your friendship!
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Hi Isabella, thank you for the comment. Question? Where or how can I read the comments left by those who are favoring the petition?
Mike Calahan June 14, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Here you go, Sheila: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-off-leash-dogs-at-bachman-park/signatures Some of the signers express their support by using ALL CAPS, so you know they're passionate. ;)
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Thanks, Mike. I was on there, just didn't click on the signatures' button. You're always coming to my rescue! Thank you, again!
Mike Calahan June 14, 2012 at 10:49 PM
If you do read the signatures, be sure to play the 'hey, that person signed more than once' game.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 10:54 PM
You're very welcome, Jon.
Scott Smyers June 14, 2012 at 10:58 PM
The thing that troubles me most about this is the seeming lack of respect for community and process. The Los Gatos Parks Commission is of, by and for the people of Los Gatos. They went through a process, which included a series of public hearings, and they arrived at a recommendation. This process and this decision need to be respected, but what I see is that those who do not agree with this legitimate decision are banding together to oppose it outside of the process. But be clear people, if your voice during the process did not result in a decision you like, then your alternative is to raise your voice during the public hearing period that will no doubt accompany the 6 month trial. Please stop inventing hypothetical stories about the entire city of San Jose converging on Bachman Park with their legions of pit bulls bent on mauling our children and pooping up not just the park, but the neighbor's yards as well. The point is, no one knows how this trial will go. I strongly recommend that we respect the outcome of this democratic due process and see what happens. The alternative is much more ugly - setting a community atmosphere in which every decision of every arm of Los Gatos governance is challenged by a band of vocal opponents such that decisions can not be made and we then live in a frozen, sterile, antagonistic state of immobility. Who wants to live in a town like that? Please proceed with the 6 month trial.
Isabella Rennie June 14, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Sheila, I clicked on the link posted by Jon Lambert. It shows the petition, names and comments
Mike Calahan June 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Well said, Scott. I'm wondering if all of these folks who are so concerned about traffic and congestion are equally opposed to the North 40 project, the Netflix project and the numerous other expansions.
AR June 15, 2012 at 04:42 AM
mr smyers - the reason for presenting opposing viewpoints to the council is obvious - they have the last word. democracy isn't being subverted here...this is a town of 50k people. the town council can surely spare the time to consider such a contentious issue...indeed, it is their mandate. the parks commission is no different than the planning commission - they only make recommendations, not decisions. as to the "antagonistic" tenor of democracy you see....i applaud concerned, involved residents. this is why we have a nice town - people care and speak up (and can be heard). why not wait until the outcome is determined before you lament the participation of your neighbors? the trial may yet still proceed. give the process a chance, use the town council meetings to make your own voice heard. as to mr. calahan's suggestion that opponents must necessarily be opposed to any other issue he can conjure or fail some consistency test...why exactly? what does netflix have to do with off-leash dogs?
Hachi June 15, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Odd the process was quite strongly biased for the off leash crowd via Todd, the ex county dog park builder.Go figure.He never had any answers of how to try this responsibly--none. Later we find out John Knowles is buddies with the mayor--yeah that's a transparent democracy all right. Precisely what are "volunteers" going to do if a dog bolts for the children's play ground and bites a child?? Do the moms/dads need to arm themselves to protect their kids from our dogs? Really?
William Carman August 05, 2012 at 09:02 AM
Check out Moraga. Home of Saint Marys College. We have 10,009 registered voters. It took less than 12 days to gather over 1,800 official signatures in support of a referendum to protect off leash hours at a multi use park. The Town Council tried to take away our off leash privileges because of a few people complaining. I think a small minority were surprised to find out how many people want off leash areas that are not fenced in. Three years ago we were thought to be a small group of 25 people showing up in the morning and evening hours to take our dogs off leash, let them poop, and then we would pick up the poop and the dog and leave. We organized, gathered the right data, reached out to our neighbors, and when the Council decided to take away our off leash privileges they were shocked to find out that in less than 12 days, we had 1800 registered voters calling in to sign a referendum in support of keeping the status quo. After 4 years of press, tV coverage, and alliances created with over hundreds of Bay area dog owners groups, our park is still not over run, except by few neighbors from Lafayette and Orinda and the Oakland hills. They pay us by bringing wine, cheese and filet minion on Saturday evenings. People need both off leash places, and places that are dog free. We have kids playing with dogs, all the time. Try out the process, you will find that it will work just fine. More info at lamorindadogs

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