Seattle Parks and Rec is reviewing the off-leash dog policy, and will present a draft plan on January 1, 2016.
Surprised? So were we—especially when we saw the range of options they are looking at.
We have asked Parks to put a hold on this planning process. We want them to start over and include other interested groups from the beginning. At this point, we are only concerned with the Planning Process: we want it to be inclusive, impartial, and accurate. You can read our specific concerns in more detail in our letter to Parks here. You can read their reply to us here.
We support welcoming leashed dogs in lawful areas. But, changing the leash law to allow off-leash dogs on Seattle park nature trails or beaches would drastically affect the balance of sensitive wildlife habitat and the nature-experience for many people. Nature should be a safe and welcoming place for all creatures, within the bounds of sustainability.
•we support leashed dogs in lawful locations.
•we support fenced, off-leash areas in appropriate locations.
•we oppose changing the leash law to allow off-leash dogs on Seattle park nature trails or beaches, or in inappropriate locations.
Nature should be open to all people, not all uses.
But, Parks’ system favors specialized-user groups, each wanting their own access to nature, and each with a ready following of supporters that can lobby for their own groups. This specialized-user system is unfair and unsustainable.
Instead, we advocate for passive-use. We must share—but let’s share on equal footing. Passive uses are compatible with other uses—they do not require their own set-aside spaces and are compatible with other uses and with the other living creatures that depend upon nature.
Nature is about the future. Seattlites are being asked to live more densely and to adjust our expectations: less driving, fewer parking spaces, fewer yards or single-family neighborhoods. We also need to adjust our expectations for specialized-uses in natural areas. We all deserve a livable, nature-rich city.
For more information:
- People, Dogs and Parks Strategic Plan – the Seattle Parks Page about the process. Last update Oct 13.
- The Timeline for the process, from Parks. There have been three versions in the last two weeks: circa 10/23, 10/27, and 11/4
- Handouts from the Focus Groups – you will only find them here
- Letter from Seattle Nature Alliance to Parks about the process
- Response from Parks to our letter
- Letter we sent to individuals/groups who should have been included in the process
- Current leash law from the Seattle Municipal Code
- Creating Dog Parks – Without Rancor – from the Trust for Public Land – see pp 2,3, 5 on Seattle
- Research on off leash dogs in Lincoln Park – from the West Seattle Blog