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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.

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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