Author Archives: lakeviewdogs
By Paul Vidican, ODOG Vice President
Last week, I angrily and publicly chastised Oakland Mayor Jean Quan for a lack of leadership on the Lake Merritt dog park issue. I was justifiably angry because after 13 years, thousands of hours of volunteer hours, and fundraising to create an area for dog owners who live in the densest part of Oakland—the Lake Merritt area—not one but two virtually-assured areas were abruptly made unavailable by the City. On Monday Mayor Quan, after reading my attack on her, graciously called me to personally discuss the issues and background information on what’s happening with finding space for people with dogs in Oakland, and what happened with the loss of Lakeview and Snow Park locations. From our conversation and her assurances, I have respect for her leadership on this issue of significant importance to such a large, diverse group of Oaklanders, and look forward to working with her. I now wish that I had spoken with her first before I wrote the letter. For that I want to apologize.
The Oakland Planning Department posted notice on Friday, seeking public comment on the proposed Lake Merritt area dog park at Snow Park. It’s imperative that we speak out for this project, and the need to have a safe, legal spot for people with dogs in Central Oakland. We know that most of you have written countless times — but please take 5 minutes to send an email today.
Send your email to:firstname.lastname@example.org
And, cc: email@example.com
Start your letter with two important phrases:
- Please APPROVE the dog run at Snow Park
- A dog run at Snow Park adds to the livablity of the neighborhood and the city.
You can also include the following information:
- Where you live
- If you would walk to the dog park
- If you would combine the visit to the dog park with other activities such a caring for kids, shopping, walk at the Lake
At the Sept 11, 2013 Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC) meeting, the Commission voted 6-1 to recommend the approval of the Minor Conditional Use Permit! It’s just the first step though in getting this park built.
On Sept. 11th PRAC heard a motion to recommend approval of the Minor Conditional Use Permit (MCUP) to the Planning Department. Parks and Recreation staff has recommended that the proposal be approved. At the meeting, 17 speakers spoke on both sides of the issue; the majority were in favor. A handful of residents of the Regillius luxury apartments spoke against the proposal, mainly on the theory that they will be affected by noise and that a nearby dog park would negatively affect their property values.
Mayor Quan briefly attended the meeting to speak in favor of the dog park, saying that the city has “been unfair” to people with dogs, and that Snow Park was a great compromise in creating a safe and legal space for people to go with their dogs. Staff from the office of Council member Lynette Gibson McIlhenney also spoke in favor of the dog park, mentioning that the Council member was strongly in favor of the proposal, and that dog parks create community space, and are effective in deterring crime.
Commissioners asked questions about costs, and the city’s architect estimated that it would cost somewhere near $200,000 to build (in comparison, the children’s play area being built at Snow Park is estimated to cost $300,000). Most of that money would be privately raised by ODOG. Commissioners were also concerned about maintenance, and voted to include an amendment to the MCUP proposal to include a recommendation that the city enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ODOG about maintenance (ODOG has long-standing MOUs with the city for the city’s other dog parks, such as in Joaquin Miller Park.) The motion to recommend the passage of the MCUP was passed by PRAC 6-1. Commission Chair Barry Miller was the lone dissenting vote, saying he’d prefer the park to remain as-is: a largely unused lawn, and he’d rather see a dog park created similarly to the new Latham Square project, where a street was reclaimed for park use.
Staff from the Planning Department said that the next step was that the proposal for the MCUP would now go to the Planning Department, who would write a report. There would then be a 17 day public comment period, after which Planning would administratively make a decision. Once the decision is made, there is a ten day appeal period. If appealed, it would then go to the Planning Commission, who would be the final word. It would not go to City Council, as did the Astro Park controversy.
The proposed dog park at Snow Park (19th & Harrison) is finally on the agenda for the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) for Wednesday, September 11, 4:30 pm. According to the PRAC Staff Report, staff is recommending that the Committee accept the approval of the Minor Conditional Use Permit for this project.
The Snow Park site is the spot that Mayor Quan, along with the Parks and Recreation Department, identified as an alternative to the Lakeview Park location (Lakeshore and MacArthur), that City Council deadlocked on last December.
Snow Park is a lovely spot, and an ideal location for a neighborhood dog park, and would serve the Lake Merritt area well. The addition of the dog park would be part of a complete overhaul of the park: adding park space, improving existing amenities, removing a road, and making it more accessible to the parkland across the street at the lake. As with any project in Oakland, there are a few people against it, and this dog park project, along with the overall improvements to Snow Park is no different.
We know we’ve asked you to come to many meetings, and we’re going to ask one more time. Please take time to come to this meeting. We’re way down on the agenda, so if you can’t make it for the start of the meeting, that’s OK. Just come! The project’s opponents will definitely be there. Remember to fill out a speaker’s card when you arrive, even if you don’t want to speak. You can always cede your time to someone else.
As always, we thank you for your continued support! Hopefully we’ll be socializing in this flagship dog park very soon!
WHEN: Wed., Sept 11. Meeting starts at 4:30, but we’re way down on the agenda
WHERE: Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave
By T.Christina Jacobs
There is a lot of information and misinformation out there about Service Dogs (SDs). Most people believe there is some sort of certification or license required for a dog to be a SD, many believe that SDs can only help people who are blind, many believe that dogs must be trained by an organization or program in order to be SDs, and many seem to think that SDs must be certain breeds in order to be legitimate. In reality, all of this is false. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), there is no nationally recognized license or certification required for SDs or their handlers, SDs can be trained to assist individuals with many different kinds of disabilities both physical and mental, individuals may train their own SDs and any breed (or mix breed) of dog can be a SD as long as the dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for his disabled handler.The ADA is written in that way in order to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to have access to SDs. Many people who need SDs may have financial troubles, which would make it hard to pay for a program trained dog (which can cost several thousand dollars out of pocket) or a licensing/certification fee. It is also more cost effective for some people to be able to use smaller breeds as SDs in order to save money on food and other expenses. The ADA specifically allows for owner trainers (OT) and doesn’t limit the breed(s) allowed to be SDs because the ADA is all about inclusion and allowing disabled individuals to have the best chance possible at a normal life.
Despite the ADA explicitly saying that an individual must be legally disabled in order to have a SD and the dog must be individually trained to do work and perform tasks in order to be a SD, there are people who take advantage of the public’s lack of knowledge about the ADA and fake SDs in order to gain access to public places with their (often untrained) pets. Despite this being illegal in most states, and morally wrong, it seems to be getting more common. “Fakers” (the term the SD community uses to describe individuals who don’t have a real need for a SD) can make life for people with legitimate SDs much more difficult. Businesses who have experienced poorly behaved dogs being passed off as SDs may be more hesitant to allow legitimate teams into their establishment, members of the public who were allowed to pet a dog being passed off as a SD may pet and distract a legitimate SD causing his disabled handler to become sick or injured, people may be frightened by a poorly behaved pet dog being passed off as a SD making them believe that all SDs are poorly behaved and something to be feared. For these reasons and more, faking a Service Dog is wrong and shouldn’t be done, no matter how well behaved a pet dog may be.
That said, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions that an individual is a “faker” because the person doesn’t “look disabled” or the dog doesn’t “look like a Service Dog.” As noted earlier, dogs of all breeds and sizes can be SDs and they can be trained to help individuals with many different disabilities. Many are not aware that SDs can successfully be trained to assist people with psychiatric and emotional disabilities as well as physical ones. There have been SDs trained for PTSD, Anxiety Disorders, Panic Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Schizophrenia and many others. As long as there is a limitation that a dog can be trained to help with, there’s a way to train a SD to help any disabling condition! It really is amazing.
If it is not apparent that the dog is a SD by looking, there are two questions that a business owner/employee may legally ask. 1. Is that a Service Animal required because of a disability; and 2. What work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform. One cannot ask for any proof of the person’s disability, the dog’s training or ask that the dog perform any of his tasks. There are countless different tasks that dogs can be trained to do to help disabled individuals. These tasks include picking up dropped items, retrieving medication, opening doors, pulling a wheelchair, interrupting compulsive behaviors, alerting to sounds, guiding a handler, and so much more. Providing comfort is no longer considered a valid task for a SD according to the ADA, though it can be a very helpful bonus. If you are not a business owner or employee, the handler is not required to answer any of your questions. If you are polite and friendly, she may be willing to talk with you, but may not have the time or capability to do so. Please understand that some disabled individuals with SDs may have a hard time communicating or may be anxious in social situations. If a SD handler does not wish to talk, please be respectful of her wishes. Also, please always ask before petting a SD and do not be offended if the handler declines. The dog is working and may not be able to properly do his job if he is distracted.
For more information about Service Dogs please visit ADA.gov or servicedogcentral.org For more information about the author and her Service Dog in Training, please visit Facebook.com/SaxontheStafford.
Last weekend at the Oakland CatVidFest, a very nice couple came up to the ODOG table. They just moved to Oakland from the East Coast, and suggested that we pull together a map of dog parks for our website. We thought that was a great idea! In addition to the few fenced dog parks in Oakland, we added in the great unfenced options. We also included a few of the dog-friendly bars and restaurants that we knew of. We’re pretty sure we missed some of each of those categories, so please let us know! Drop us a line if you know of any other off-leash parks or trails, or dog-friendly bars and restaurants.
Mon., Jan. 28th, 4:30-6:30 pm
Lakeside Garden Center ($2.00 parking fee)
The Oakland City Council will hear our appeal on Tuesday, December 4th at 5:30 pm. It’s very important that we have a large number of our supporters there. Please join us! City Hall is at One Frank Ogawa Plaza (14th & Broadway). There is a parking lot one block away at 14th & Clay, and 12th Street/City Center BART is one block away. If you need a ride to the meeting, email us and we will hook you up.
This will be our last chance to get a small slice of off-leash space in central Oakland. All of the parkland in the Lake Merritt area is completely off-limits to people with dogs, even on leash. All we are asking for is half an acre. Help us end this inequity.
WAYS YOU CAN HELP OUR CAUSE:
- Come to the meeting on December 4th. If you want to speak, let us know. We’d be happy to help you with speaking points if you’d like.
- Write to City Council, and tell them to approve this park. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, use our handy form, send a handwritten letter to Council, Oakland City Hall, One Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612, Call your City Council member.
- Watch our videos, and spread the word to your friends.
- If you haven’t already, please join our Facebook page. We will keep you posted on next steps.
- Share our post on Facebook about this meeting, and tell your friends to come.
- If you’d like to volunteer to help, send us an email.
We’re having an event to discuss the proposed Lakeview dog park, and get letters to City Council. Meet your fellow dog-lovers in a beautiful, sunny private garden. We will provide all the supplies, and pizza and snacks, too.
LOCATION: 373 Hanover Street, Oakland [map]
Date: Sunday, October 7th, 1 pm – 4 pm
What: Pizza, snacks, and other refreshments. Bring your laptop or iPad if you want to send a letter electronically.
Dogs: Very well-behaved dogs are invited to come, too. As this is a private garden, dogs who love to dig may want to stay home.
City Council candidate Sean Sullivan, a strong supporter of ODOG will be available to take your questions. Mary Scott and Susan Snyder, who collaborated on a beautiful book of historical photos of dogs will be signing their book as a fundraiser for ODOG ($15 for a copy).
You may have completed the park district’s online survey last year that included several questions about dogs. That was to gather info for the Master Plan. The 10,000 signatures we dog advocates gathered last year was in response to the survey and Master Plan update.
The new Master Plan will guide park district policies for the next 10 years or more. As it reads today, the new Master Plan will support building out new trails for “hikers, equestrians, and bike riders” – but not for people walking dogs.
Many popular trails have already closed to dogs (or now require dogs to be on leash), including Stream, Serpentine, and Dunn. Over time, trail closures and this new policy will gradually transform much of the park district into a place off-limits to people with dogs.
There will be six public meetings about the proposed policy changes in September and October. The first is in Redwood Regional Park, Oakland, on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The complete schedule and locations are below.
It is CRITICAL that dog advocates turn out in large numbers at every meeting. Some very vocal groups are opposed to dogs (off leash or even on leash). THIS IS OUR LAST CHANCE TO BE HEARD before the updated policies go to the Board of Directors for approval. Don’t give anyone the chance to say that “most people we heard from at
these community meetings were opposed to dogs.”
Even if you hate speaking in public – be there as a warm body in support of furry ones. NUMBERS COUNT. Bring your friends and family along, too.
We need to make it clear that people with dogs – who are 35% or more of the EBRPD’s park users today, and probably 40 percent of the East Bay taxpayer base – expect to continue to enjoy the parks with our dogs.
The changes to the existing park district policies can be viewedhere:
We need two important corrections.
RFA2 says: “The District will provide a diverse system of trails to accommodate a variety of recreational users including hikers and joggers, dog owners, bicyclists and equestrians. Both wide and narrow trails will be designed and individually designated to accommodate either single- or multiple uses, as appropriate, based on location,
recreational intensity, environmental and safety considerations.”
This essentially lists the major park user groups. We would like “dog owners” changed to “people with dogs.” Park users often walk another family member’s or a friend’s or a client’s dog.
RFA3 says: “The District will continue to add both designated and shared use narrow trails for hikers, equestrians and bike riders throughout the system of regional parklands.”
As written, this means that AS A MATTER OF POLICY the park district will be able to exclude people with dogs from all new trails. (And if they don’t – people who oppose dogs can challenge that by saying that it’s “not in the Master Plan.”)
This MUST be changed. The park district should not implement a blanket policy that excludes a major group of park users/supporters.
Please note that these policies were extensively vetted over the past 18 months by staff, the Board, the Park Advisory Committee, and many others. Logically, all the user groups in RFA2 should have been repeated in RFA3 — so we can’t just assume that leaving people with dogs off the list was an oversight. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.
But if we don’t speak out it won’t change.
PLEASE ATTEND AS MANY OF THESE MEETINGS AS YOU CAN:
September 11, 2012
7 – 8:30 p.m. – Oakland
Richard Trudeau Training Center
Redwood Regional Park
11500 Skyline Blvd
Oakland, CA 94619
September 19, 2012
7 – 8:30 p.m. – Concord
Concord Senior Center
2727 Parkside Circle
Concord, CA 94519
September 22, 2012
10 – 11:30 a.m. – Oakley
Big Break Visitor Center at the Delta
Big Break Regional Shoreline
69 Big Break Road
Oakley, CA 94561
September 29, 2012
10 – 11:30 a.m. – Fremont
Fremont Community Center
40000 Paseo Padre Pkwy.
Fremont, CA 94538
October 3, 2012
7 – 8:30 p.m. – Dublin
Dublin Unified School District
7471 Larkdale Ave.
Dublin, CA 94568
October 9, 2012
7 – 8:30 p.m. – Richmond
Richmond Memorial Auditorium
403 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA 94804