Seattle Parks and Recreation has released the long awaited People, Dogs, and Parks Plan draft, a document focused on updating the off leash dog policy in our city parks.
The ‘draft‘ is very long (161 pages) and shows the extent to which Parks went in researching, reviewing, and justifying their options on this very contentious issue. Highlights of the recommendations (pages 41-43) include:
- No unfenced or mixed use off leash areas in parks
- No offleash dogs on trails in parks
- Current offleash budget to be spent on maintenance of current areas, not creation of new ones
- No new offleash areas with beach access (i.e., on Puget Sound)
- Several suggestions for finding/creating offleash areas outside of Seattle Parks property
With limited greenspace (see How Seattle Parks Compare) , we believe the needs of ‘all people’ outweigh the desires of specialized user groups. Off leash dog owners should not get special privileges for their off leash dog recreation at a cost to other park users, wildlife, and the well being of the park ecosystem. We support passive use in our greenspaces, which does include dog owners who leash their dogs. We hope, as stated in the draft document, other more appropriate recreation area options become available for what is clearly a dog recreation need.
As this is still a ‘draft’, it has not been approved, and the Board of Park Commissioners, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle City Council will be watching public comment and reaction closely. We encourage everyone to either testify in person, or send a letter to the Parks board by October 14, 2016 (this post updated 9/10/2016).
From DOGSANDPARKS@TALK2.SEATTLE.GOV on 6/22/16:
The Draft People, Dogs and Parks Plan is now posted for public review and comment.
The Draft, released for public review on June 21, 2016, will not be finalized until late this year. A public hearing by the Board of Park Commissioners (Board) will be held:
UPDATED Meeting Info and Timeline
UPCOMING Meeting September 22, 2016 / CALL TO ACTION by October 14, 2016:
September 22, 2016
Miller Community Center
Send letters by October 14th to:
Board of Park Commissioners
100 Dexter Ave. N.
Seattle, Washington 98109
The Parks Board recommendation is scheduled to be released in early November and finalized by December 2016.
UPDATED: Excerpt from Press Release sent by Seattle Parks & Recreation, August 24th, 2016:
Board of Park Commissioners to hold a Public Hearing on the People, Dogs and Parks Strategic Plan
The Board of Park Commissioners will hold a public hearing to receive feedback on the Draft People, Dogs and Parks Strategic Plan. The meeting will take place at Miller Community Center on September 22, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.
The Draft People, Dogs and Parks Strategic Plan is available here. The plan will guide the operations of existing off-leash areas, and provides strategies for development of future off-leash areas. It provides direction on how to spend Seattle Park District funding designated for existing off-leash areas over the six-year term of the Park District funding plan (2015-2020).
The Board of Park Commissioners will receive oral and written testimony, and will make a recommendation to the Parks and Recreation Superintendent based on the feedback they receive from the public.
Seattle currently has 14 fenced off-leash areas totaling 28 acres. The People, Dogs and Parks Plan offers recommendations on how to add new off-leash areas, and how to improve off-leash area conditions and user experience.
New off-leash areas may be added through new park development, existing park redevelopment and community requests, on park land or non-park public land. All new off-leash area proposals will be reviewed by a committee of environmental and dog advocates, community members, animal behaviorists and Parks staff, who will make a recommendation to the Parks and Recreation Superintendent.
The Plan recommends that future off-leash areas be fenced, does not recommend allowing unleashed dogs on trails, and recommends against establishing more off-leash areas on beaches. User conflicts, limited enforcement and maintenance resources, and environmental concerns limit the capacity for adequate management of unleashed dogs in city parks outside of fenced off-leash areas.
The plan proposes the use of Seattle Park District funding to improve existing off-leash areas based on site assessments included in the plan, and to explore possibilities for partnerships and sponsorships to expand resources. It also proposes the creation of a license for dog walkers, and limiting the number of dogs in a dog-walker pack to three unless dog walkers complete an approved animal behavior training program.
Those who want to give input on the plan but are not able to come to the meetings can give written comments, which bear equal weight to verbal comments. Please email comments to email@example.com.
For more from the Seattle Nature Alliance on this issue, see our earlier post, Seattle should not approve off-leash in natural parks. As you will see at the end, we love dogs, but recognize the limitations and responsibilities that come with dog ownership in a dense urban area.
Note: this blog post was updated on Sept 10, 2016 to reflect new meeting dates and updated timelines for policy decision.