The Bay Area’s Dog Debate

 

Bay Area dog enthusiasts are up in arms (paws?) over a plan that would greatly reduce the number of sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where their pets could roam leash free.

The National Park Service is set to issue draft rules in the Spring that would allow dogs to be off leash at only seven locations in the 80,000 acre Recreation Area that spans from Tomales Bay in Marin down to Rancho de Tierra in San Mateo County. Popular dog spots such as San Francisco’s Ocean Beach and Stinson Beach in Marin would now be on-leash only.

Dog activists have wasted no time blasting the proposed change. San Mateo Congresswoman Jackie Speier, herself a dog owner, went so far as to call the rule “un-American,” and has promised to use whatever sway she has to prevent the National Park Service from instituting the change. And the Bay Area-based advocacy group, Save Our Recreation, created a petition that has gathered nearly 10,000 signatures urging the National Park Service to back off from the proposal.

But the possible new rule does have some supporters. Conservationists complain that free roaming dogs disrupt native wildlife. And many pedestrians, cyclists, and picnickers are annoyed by loose dogs getting in their way or helping themselves to lunch.

We at Civinomics find all this very interesting, not just in terms of the debate itself, but also because we have been covering a very similar issue down in Santa Cruz. The County Parks and Recreation Commission had recommended that local leaders pursue a pilot program that would allow dogs to be off leash at county beaches for the first time. Posing the following question to our readers – “Do you want an off leash pilot program?” – we ended up getting over 200 votes and 101 comments on our site, with a clear majority supporting a pilot program. Clearly man’s best friend inspires strong opinions.

So how do you feel about National Park Service’s plan for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area? Should the number of off leash dog sites be reduced? Is there a potential compromise that would preserve the natural environment and still allow for canine recreation? Vote and comment on the proposal here.

Should Off Leash Dog Access Be Reduced in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area?

The National Park Service is considering reducing the number of sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where dogs can be off leash.

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