You know what I love? Dogs!
I don’t have a dog now, my family always had dogs when we were growing up. Both of my sisters have wonderful dogs that I adore. I often think I would like to get one, and I’m sure I will someday. But for now, neither my apartment nor my schedule can accommodate one.
Anyway. One of the things I think about when I think about how I’d like to get a dog is that it seems like it would be hard to have a dog in Oakland. Or at least, for someone who lives in my part of the city without a car, it seems like it would be hard. There is nowhere for you to take them to play.
Or even to be with you when you want to hang out outside. I’m sorry, but I think Oakland’s no dogs in any park even on a leash unless it is a dog park policy is totally psycho. Everywhere else you go, you can take your dog to any park as long as you keep it on a leash. Sometimes I will complain about it to people who have clearly lived here too long, and they will immediate start back with this insane string of elaborate paranoid imaginings about all the terrible things that could possibly happen if there were a leashed dog in a park. I’m like “Dude, you know what? Somehow they make it work everywhere else. So I think it’s going to be okay.”
Wev. Anyway, one nice thing about the City recently is that we are adding all these dog parks. A new one opened in November at the a new one opened in November at the rededication of Old Oakland’s Jefferson Square Park. And there is going to be a new one at 37th and MLK. They are having a grand opening party on January 15th. The paranoid conspiracy theorist in me says that the reason the City is all of a sudden so eager for dog parks is because they know the dog owners are so desperate for a place to take their pets that the City can extort them into taking care of the property, so the City has less work. But hey, maybe it is just because people are really pushing hard to make them happen.
Lakeview Park Dog Park
Anyway. One neighborhood that has been clamoring for a dog park for a great deal of time is Adams Point. And tomorrow, they have a chance of coming one step closer to getting one. The Oakland Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission will consider, at their meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, December 8th, a request for approval of the design of an off-leash dog play area at Lakeview Park.
The Lakeview Dog Play Area will enclose the corner of the park bordered by MacArthur Blvd to the north and Lakeshore Ave to the southeast. The long-awaited dog play area will contain separate off-leash areas for large and small dogs to exercise and socialize.
If you were wondering what I meant above when I said “a great deal of time,” the report (PDF) offers a brief history of this project:
The Lakeview Dog Play Area was included in the Lake Merritt Park Master Plan, which was accepted by the Oakland City Council in July 2002, and in the Adams Point Urban Design Plan, submitted to the City of Oakland Community and Economic Development Agency in December 2002. The development of both these plans included extensive public review and comment. Both of the plans included graphic exhibits showing the dog play area in the location adjacent to MacArthur Boulevard where it is currently proposed.
The creation of a dog play area in the Lake Merritt area was identified as an unmet community need by the Northlake Neighborhood Group (NLNG) in 1998. In 1999, volunteers from ODOG and the NLNG collected 740 petition signatures of residents in the Lake Merritt area, supporting the creation of a dog play area near Lake Merritt. Important factors in selecting a possible location for the dog park included adequate distance from the wildlife sanctuary and low impact on other park user groups and the surrounding community. NLNG met with my office to discuss the dog play area in December 2001. Councilmembers Chang and Wan held a public meeting on behalf of the dog play area in February 2004. At that time Councilmember Chang offered $20,000 for the dog play area but the City was not able to commit to building it in time to accept the funds. Thus, Councilmember Chang’s funds were used to create the Joaquin Miller dog play area.
Public meetings for the Lakeview Dog Park were also held on November 7, 2005, and on June 29, 2006, and community input from those meetings was incorporated into the design. The meetings were sponsored by Councilmember Nancy Nadel and community outreach was extensive. The needs of other user groups in Lakeview Park, including tot-lot users and soccer players have been addressed in the plans.
In July 2006, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission gave one-year probationary support for the construction of a dog play area at Lakeview Park. The creation of the dog play area was conditional upon approval by the City Council to amend the Oakland Municipal Code, Title 6, Chapter 6.04, Article 6.04.080 to include the Lakeview Dog Play Area as an off-leash dog play area in the exempted list of such parks. Unfortunately, the project stalled before the Public Works Department could approve the final design. The delay was in part due to the larger scope of the original dog play area project, which would have required several hundred thousand dollars to construct.
For the past 18 months, volunteers, including design and landscape architects, have worked diligently to scale back the project to meet the City’s resource constraints while still fulfilling the design and maintenance requirements of the City. Extensive discussions took place between volunteers and City staff from PWA, OPR, and ADA programs. ODOG also presented to and received approval from the Adam’s Point Action Council (APAC) in October 2009 Additionally, my office continues to receive frequent constituent calls and emails requesting a dog play area in this area.
The project has identified funding from the following sources: Public Works Agency Capital Reserves Fund ($21,000), Council District 3 carry-forward Pay-Go funds ($10,000), Council District 2 ($2,000), At-large Council office ($2,000). ODOG continues to seeking funding for the remainder of the cost.
At tomorrow’s meeting, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission will be asked to approve the design for the park. The project specifics listed in the report are as follows:
To enclose/fence a section of the Lakeview Park for use as an off-lease dog play area for dogs to exercise, and for both dogs and their guardians to socialize.
Specific elements of the project include:
- Separate play areas for large and small dogs
- Fencing to enclose the dog play area, which will be 21,3000 sq. ft. total in area. The fence fully separates those on the inside from those on the outside without imposing unnecessary visual impact on the park
- Double gate entries that are ADA accessible with supply vehicle access
- Concrete mow-band around 2/3 of the fence to provide easy access for lawn maintenance
- Two in-ground waste receptables
- Wood chips to provide the ground cover
- Tree planting between the fence line and MacArthur Blvd
And here’s one more picture.
So I think this is just great. As I said, I think dog parks are awesome and Oakland should have more of them. And it is true, as the report says, the dog parks serve the important function of giving dog owners a place to socialize. My little sister used to go to college in the middle of nowhere in eastern Washington. And she would always be telling these stories about friends of hers where I could not for the life of me imagine how she ever ending up crossing paths with this person. Like, she’d be all “My friend Doug, who is a 60 year old prison guard at the state penn…” and I’d be like “Wait, what? How are you friends with this person?” And she would always be like “Oh, I met him at the dog park.”
And it is totally true. Whenever you go to the dog park, everyone there wants to talk to you. I’m not very social myself, so I don’t particularly like that aspect of it all, but I see how it would be important to a lot of people.
Opposition to the dog park
But not everyone thinks the dog park is such a great idea. There are all these people, and honestly I don’t know if there are only like five really angry people, or if these five people are representative of a lot of other people or what. But there is all this craziness on the neighborhood listservs that people forward me against this dog park. All these e-mails being like “I don’t think a dog park is right for this neighborhood” and “the dog park excludes people” and “the rights of humans to use their parks are being usurped by dogs” and “the fence around the park will cause traffic accidents” and “well I want a dog park that’s closer to my house than that” and “the dog park should be on the estuary” and “we need more community input” and “but I just moved here” and “the dogs will destroy the beautiful grass that my only joy in life comes from looking at every day as I walk to the bus stop.”
So, to those people — look, I am sorry you don’t want a dog park. My advice is to chill out and learn to live with it. It’s a dog park, not a nuclear reactor or a surface parking lot. People all over the place manage to deal with them somehow, I’m sure you will find a way to cope too. Dogs are a very normal thing to have.
Because seriously, at some point, you have to just admit that there has been enough community input on whether or not something is a good thing and you have to accept the decision that was made. This has been discussed and decided for a long time. And it’s not like it was just once twenty years ago or something. If that were the case, it probably would be appropriate to revisit the decision. But public input and planning on this issue has been ongoing for over a decade. I’m sorry if people who just moved here and missed all that don’t like it, but you know, we can’t just start deciding everything all over again every time somebody moves. We just can’t.
Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee
Anyway, if you’re interested, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, December 8, 2010 meets at 4:30 PM at the Lakeside Garden Center, which is located at 666 Bellevue Avenue
I am actually interested in this, but I will not be able to attend the meeting, because I am more interested in the Pleasant Valley Safeway at the Planning Commission’s Design Review Committee, which is also happening tomorrow. If anyone does go, I would love it if you’d leave a comment informing us all about the discussion.
Help fund the dog park
And if you’re into the dog park and want to help, but don’t feel like going to the meeting? Well, here is one suggestion, from ODOG’s recent newsletter:
The city is providing only about half the $50,000 cost of the dog park. The rest is up to us. A holiday gift to yourself or another dog lover would be a donation to support the dog park. You can contribute here with a credit card of PayPal account.
Please note that for technical reasons your receipt and credit card might show the name Emily Rosenberg instead of Oakland Dog Owners Group. Please be assured that every penny will go to the non profit account of ODOG.
Another convenient thing about the park is that is dog owners feel like a drink when their pets are done playing, they can just walk across the street and go to dog-friendly bar the Heart and Dagger.