The long-awaited effort to mark the boundaries of the dog park (a/k/a Off Leash Area) got off to a false start this week as Parks staff pinned the markers wide of the actual boundary, expanding the dog area by more than 900 square yards.
The original, City Council-approved map of the southern boundary was marked by brown fiberglass panels about four feet high with “Entering Off Leash Area” printed in white on one side, and “Exiting Off Leash Area” on the other side. Time and vandalism have left nothing of them today, but the markers show plainly enough in Google Earth maps of 2015 and 2017, and Parks staff used them as the boundary for mowing the area. The boundary began on the east just south of the water fountain area and ended on the west next to the porta-potty.
The new markers are four foot plastic poles about a half inch in diameter, blue with a white band near the top. They contain no lettering. Parks staff placed them on a new line beginning at the big square rock south of the water area, on the east side, and running to the signpost near the path junction on the west side. The new markers add a bit more than 900 square yards or a fifth of an acre to the area approved by City Council.
This might not matter one way or another were it not for the big brouhaha that some dog owners raised a few years ago when then Park Superintendent John Mann unilaterally moved the boundary off the western hillside below the Cesar Chavez Memorial Solar Calendar down to the west edge of the valley path. That was a reasonable move, bringing the boundary in line with actual physical features of the park, instead of an arbitrary, unworkable arc in the tall weeds on the slope. But voices were raised in angry defense of the City Council boundaries, and Mann had to retreat. Now Parks administration is moving the boundaries again without City Council approval, this time to expand the dog park rather than shrink it. Will we hear the same clamor of obedience to the City Council’s boundary edict?
Looking at the Big Picture, the dog park boundaries set in 1998 are in need of serious rethinking. But they were set by City Council and until City Council reconsiders, that’s what they are.
The video shows the line of blue poles implanted Nov. 5, adding more than 900 square yards to the dog park, without City Council action.
The blue poles, according to Waterfront Manager Alexandra Endress, are going to be planted every ten feet or so around the entire perimeter of the dog park. The markers would remove widespread ignorance and confusion among dog owners about dog park boundaries and would enable Animal Control to do their work more effectively. Endress indicated some time ago that the posts could not be planted while the ground was so dry and hard, and staff would wait until heavy rains had softened the soil. However, the dry ground apparently wasn’t a hindrance to planting this line of posts well outside the real boundary.