Category Archives: Leash Laws

Right Idea. Right Place. Council Agrees. But, there’s a little more work to do.

At the meeting this past Tuesday, a majority of the City Council voted 4-3 to support this dog park. But, for a resolution to be passed, we need 5 votes. Council Member Jane Brunner was absent, and this matter has been continued on to the Tues., Dec. 18th meeting. Plan to attend if you can. In the event that Councilmember Brunner votes against us, Mayor Jean Quan has the option to be the tie-breaking vote.

artist rendering Lakeview Park

Artist rendering of how this park would look with the addition of a dog park

Here is how to Council voted in support of the dog park:

YES: De la Fuente, Schaaf, Nadel, Kaplan
NO: Brooks, Reid, Kernighan

Please take a moment to do the following:

  • Email both Jane Brunner and Mayor Jean Quan (and us):;;
  • Come to the meeting on Tuesday, December 18th at 6:30 pm at City Hall. Although technically public comments can still be heard, both parties (ODOG and Save Astro Park) have agreed that this evening should be about the vote. So while we invite everyone to attend and listen, neither party is encouraging speakers as we all want this evening to be as short as possible. If you have further questions about this, please do not hesitate to email us.

In your email to Council member Brunner, remember to be polite, and ask both Councilmember Brunner and Mayor Quan to join the majority of City Council and support this dog park. Some talking points for your letters:

  • It’s in the Lake Merritt Master Plan (approved by City Council in 2002), Adams Point Plan, it was approved by the Park & Rec Advisory Committee (PRAC) in 2010, and the Planning Commission Staff recommended that it be approved in 2012. (The Planning Commission itself denied this proposal – 3 voted against, 1 abstained, 3 were absent).
  • ODOG volunteers are out every month at lake cleanups for the past 2 years. Other dog parks across town are so well-maintained that we’ve received letters of praise from other park user groups and Oakland Public Works. Mostly private funds will be used to build and maintain this park, and the Memorandum of Understanding with the city lays out sanctions if standards are not met.
  • Oakland has two existing dog parks that are closer to tot lots than this one will be (Hardy Park and Jefferson); they’ve been there for years without any significant amount of incidents.
  • San Francisco has nine dog parks adjacent to kids play areas (Duboce, Dolores, Haas, St. Mary’s, Eureka Valley, Upper Noe, Potrero Hill, Alamo Square, Alta Plaza) and according to SF Park & Rec, a “non-existent rate of incidents.”
  • There are at least 13 other spots within a mile and a half to play sports (see map), several tot lots, and almost nothing for people with dogs. The Piedmont dog park is at least 2 miles away, one way, and Oaklanders have to pay to use it.
  • Dog parks make great neighborhood meeting places, and they build community.
  • At least 47% of households in Oakland have dogs as part of their families; and there are more dogs in Oakland than there are children.

Crazy Laws

Don't shoot me, bro!

Did you know that in California, it’s against the law for a woman to drive in a housecoat? You’re also prohibited from shooting any sort of wild game from a moving car — unless it’s a whale. In San Francisco, “persons classified as ‘ugly’ may not walk down any street.” There are lots of silly or antiquated laws still on the books all across the country.

We’re no different here in Oakland. Almost every park in our lovely city is off-limits to dogs and their owners — even if that dog is on a leash. People up in the Oakland hills have some respite, since they have the lovely off-leash area in Joaquin Miller Park. ODOG worked tirelessly to build it six years ago. It’s been a big hit with the neighbors. Initially, the Woodminster Theater adjacent to the off leash area was worried it would smell and wouldn’t be properly maintained. But, last March Harriet Schlader, the director of shows at Woodminster sent an unsolicited letter of praise to ODOG for how “clean” and “odorless” it’s been.

If you live near Lake Merritt you’re somewhat out of luck, and probably unknowingly breaking the law (much like those aesthetically-challenged folks across the bay). You most likely enjoy walking with your family and your dog near the lake and/or in some of our beautiful parks. Who wouldn’t? Walking a dog in a park is a natural occurrence that happens millions of times a day all across the globe. It knows no racial, age, religious or socio-economic barrier. But, people can (and sometimes do) get ticketed when paws touch grass in Oakland.

ODOG has worked with city planners and politicians for years to identify a suitable space for dog owners in the area to legally exercise their dogs and socialize with other people. Initially, Splash Pad Park was identified as the place. But, a separate proposal to put a Farmer’s Market there won out. (Incidentally, some neighbors fought the Farmer’s Market with almost as much veracity as they’re now fighting this proposal; and by all measures the market is an unqualified success).

Save Astro Park "fake out stake out"

Screen shot of the opposition’s Facebook page showing their recent “stake out" of the proposed site. Sports are clearly being played, despite their claim that the half of the field to be left unchanged is “unusable.” Also notice the patchy yellowish color of the grass. Click to Enlarge

Now a decade later and after literally dozens of public forums, Lakeview Park has been found to be the only spot anywhere around that an off leash area would be even remotely possible. And, why not? Sports will still be able to be played there despite what our opposition claims (see picture in sidebar). The tot lot will remain untouched, and is over 25 feet away.

This spot we’re asking for is less than one half of one percent of the parkland in the area. It would be space where we won’t be forced to break the law. And, for those that don’t want dogs in the other 154.5 acres of park for whatever reason, a study by the University of California, Davis confirms the obvious: “The establishment of a well-maintained and responsibly-used dog park may actually improve the value of some neighborhoods. Another benefit for a well-located park, according to park managers, is that the availability of an off-leash park reduced the tendency for people to allow their dogs off-leash in areas where it is not legal.” This proposed off leash area is a win-win all around.