ENCINITAS — Despite the recommendation of the Parks and Recreation Commission to expand off-leash dog hours, City Council declined to make any changes in the existing ordinance at two parks.
After several hours of public testimony and discussion on Feb. 10, Hawk View and Glen Park remained on-leash parks. Instead, the council voted 4-0, with Councilman James Bond absent, to develop a “doggie master plan” for all city parks.
Some nearby residents of Hawk View Park off Quail Gardens Drive and Glen Park on Orinda Drive in Cardiff-by-the-Sea were supportive of the expanded hours.
“We didn’t invent this issue, it was brought to us as a request,” Deputy Mayor Maggie Houlihan told the crowd.
City Council voted 4-1, with Councilman James Bond opposed, to expand off-leash hours for dogs at Orpheus, Sun Vista and Viewpoint parks on Nov. 18, 2009. The new hours will be 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Doug Goad gave a brief presentation to the council. A subcommittee began the public process in September and finalized its report in January.
Commissioner Lorri Greene, a member of the subcommittee that studied the possibility of expanding off-leash hours gave the full report to the council.
“Neighborhood emotions are considerable,” Greene reported. At a meeting late last year, the community input was evenly split between opponents and proponents.
While the commission recommended off-leash hours, it added caveats. Greene said city staff should carefully monitor off-leash use as well as consider a barrier to restrict off-leash dogs. In addition, she said the commission recommended restricting alcohol use during off-leash hours.
A longtime resident near Orpheus Park in Leucadia, Steve Meiche, said he opposed expanding off-leash hours at other parks. “Our current dog parks are grossly mismanaged,” Meiche told the council.
Mayor Dan Dalager implored dog owners to follow the rules. “I do like the idea of having extended hours,” he said. “It makes great sense.” However, he said he supported separate facilities such as the one planned at the Hall Park.
Councilman Jerome Stocks said a dog master plan was important. “I’m not a fan of shared facilities,” he said. Houlihan said putting off the decision was “punting” the issue. “We still have to finance the Hall property,” she said. “I think at some point, I think we need to step forward.”
“The concerns that I’m hearing in my view would be remedied with fencing,” Houlihan said.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who recused herself from discussion on Glen Park because she lives in the vicinity, said she would support off-leash hours as long as barriers were in place to separate dogs from park goers.