Signs Are Not Enough

Park management deserves applause for finally addressing some of the long-standing gaps in boundary signage for the dog park (“off-leash area”) and for the nature area on the north side. See Review post. But, as this video shows, signs aren’t enough. A number of dog owners let their dogs run in the nature area as if the signs didn’t exist. And on the southwest corner of the dog park, every dog owner that passed the newly posted bright red “Exiting Off Leash Area” sign while I was filming ignored it. Park management has done nothing to mark the dog park boundaries for so many years that people have got in the habit of running their dogs off leash wherever they please.

Sources say that Park management will install a partition fence between the north side of the dog park and the south side of the nature area before the end of January. That will be a long-awaited positive, praiseworthy development. There is at least one Burrowing Owl in the nature area that has enough to worry about from hawks without having to also hide from marauding canines. But whether dog owners will respect the fence remains to be seen. There is a criminal element on the margins of the dog owner world that feels privileged to vandalize dog area boundaries.

Neither signage nor partition fences will succeed unless there is a positive attitude among the majority of dog owners who visit the park. Toward that end, there needs to be public education, which has been absent in the park for years, if not forever. And for the slow learners, there needs to be enforcement. The ticket for trespassing in the nature area is a minimum of $100, and for running a dog off leash outside a designated area is $250. At the moment, as the movie shows, the City is missing a serious revenue opportunity in Cesar Chavez Park. And the movie shows only a small fraction of the violations that go on.

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