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New dog parks pitched in Palo Alto

Original post made on Mar 25, 2016

Dogged by persistent complaints about inadequate park space for local pooches, Palo Alto officials are preparing to unleash a new policy that would both expand existing dog parks and create new ones throughout the city.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 25, 2016, 12:00 AM

Comments (44)

Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:12 am

Bravo to CSD and PARC for moving this forward. I was a PARC Commissioner for 9 years, ending in 2012, and despite some attempts, this issue never got off the ground during my time of service.

There are so many benefits to the community in having ubiquitous dog parks, and mitigating places where dog owners currently congregate, such as school yards.

This worthwhile effort deserves prompt review and approval.

Posted by Ugh
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:34 am

We're known for our train track suicides and we're worried about how to best serve the city's DOGS?! I love dogs. But I don't love dog parks. They're stressful on dogs and they smell. I don't want to get all NIMBY on this silly thing, but NIMBY.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:39 am

Good work, Darren Anderson.

Dog parks are not stressful on the dogs. What's stressful is if they don't get to go to the dog parks. My dog is so smart that he can tell time and knows exactly when it's time to go to the dog park and he starts nudging me if I don't move fast enough.

A link to a map showing the proposed dog parks would be nice.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:45 am

A dog park should be available to all within walking distance. It is ridiculous to take a dog in a car to go to the park. And watching dogs play is a great stress reliever for kids. They should be visible enough that people who do not own dogs should be able to watch them play an interact if that appeals to them.

Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:59 am

I disagree about "watching dogs play is a great stress reliever for kids". Loud dog barking and trying not to step in dog crap all over the ground is extremely stressful for kids. If dog owners were more responsible, I might be more sensitive to their needs, but right now I say NIMBY. Don't ruin our neighborhood parks.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 25, 2016 at 10:38 am

Dog parks benefit the dog and their best friend. Great exercise for all concerned. Dog parks that have only dirt make the dog dusty and dirty. Synthetic turf or natural grass is a must.
To the writer who was concerned that there are other more serious issues that should take our priority -- My comment is that we can address more than one issue. Quality of life and getting people and their pooches outdoors is a great thing. Allows us to get to know our neighbors too.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2016 at 10:50 am

Bol Park could use a dog park. Maybe that would help to curb the large (sometimes dangerous) problem with dogs off leash - there and in back of Gunn High School?

Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

Santa Rosa has a park where dogs can play off leash between certain hours only. If there is going to be another larger dog park, PLEASE have the fencing be higher than the pathetic 3 feet at Hoover and other of the smaller parks. Larger dogs have no problem leaping over a low fence to chase the ubiquitous squirrels that taunt them from the outside. A Malinois can go over a 5 foot fence. Even four feet might not be adequate for such a dog, though most larger dogs would not challenge it.

Posted by DoodyCalls
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2016 at 11:34 am

Being in the dog business on the messy side of things. We have worked with San Mateo and San Carlos to get their dog parks started. What we have learned is that shared parks are not a good solution in the long for sure. Setting up temporary locations and reviewing there upside and downside before committing is a very good idea.

Pet waste issues are best handle with good bag locations. Currently we are setting up to pitch to local cities to set up stations in downtown areas sponsored by local businesses. It is working in SoCal.

Good Luck when your ready we supply the best bags and stations at a great price.

Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:08 pm

@DoodyCalls - please post your dog crap bags around school zones, too. We see a ton of dog crap on the sidewalk as we walk to school. Just posting these in parks is not enough. Thank you.

Posted by Michael
a resident of University South
on Mar 25, 2016 at 1:42 pm

This is nuts! We don't have nearly enough park space for our people living downtown, and we're worrying about dogs!!??!!

Posted by Madhuri
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2016 at 3:44 pm

This is a great idea and is long overdue.

As a city, we can and have tackled more than one issue at a time. Suicides in Palo Alto schools deserve careful scrutiny, but not sure the Parks and Recreation committee is the place for it. Nor should they stop their work while we, as a city, grapple with this problem.

Dog parks are not stressful for most dogs. They are actually healthy for dogs - they get socialized and work out their energy by running around. A socialized and exercised dog is a happy dog and overall, safer to be around, even for people who may not like dogs. Dog parks are also great at building and fostering a sense of community. I have come to meet way more of my neighbors through walking my dog than I would have otherwise. And, made many friends through meeting them and letting our dogs run around together.

Of course, not all dogs are suited for dog parks. Dogs that are dog-aggressive or get stressed in the presence of other dogs usually don't come to dog parks, unless the owner is irresponsible. If it is my neighborhood park, chances are my neighbor won't bring their dog there if the dog happens to dislike other dogs or people. Everyone knows someone else there, and no one wants to be called out for their misbehaving dog.

Fencing the off-leash area makes sense for everyone - kids/coaches don't step on dog poop while playing, no one has to worry about suddenly encountering an unknown dog off-leash, and dogs are safer since they cannot run out of the designated area and into traffic, for instance.

Dogs typically don't bark at dog parks. They are too busy playing / hanging out. You can go down to some of the schools, especially on the north side, where people congregate with their dogs sometimes, for lack of a better area to exercise their dogs off-leash. They seem very quiet.

On the contrary, here are some benefits to having off-leash dog areas in parks.

- They make the parks safer. You can be sure no creep is going to try stunts like exposing themselves, or mug or harass someone, when there are a bunch of people and their dogs around. People working in the community garden at Pardee have come up to me to say they feel safer when there are dogs and people around because the place is very isolated.

- It is an easy way for your child to interact with a dog under your supervision with out the responsibility of having to own one. Kids growing up around pets, especially dogs, tend to have fewer allergies. See:
Web Link
Web Link

- They foster a sense of community much like any other shared activity might. The difference is, since this is in your neighborhood, the community is composed of people living close by, who can be helpful at other times. It also helps reduce the sense of isolation.

It is time for this to happen. All the surrounding cities have excellent off-leash dog area options. Palo Alto is way behind on this one.

Posted by CoCo Hall
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2016 at 5:04 pm

I use both the Hoover and Mitchell dog parks and am very grateful for them. I live in Midtown and they are both reasonably accessible, but if you live in North Palo Alto, there aren't great options and some people resort to using the playing fields of local schools. In all fairness, this happens at Hoover park as well - people who find the dog park too dirty exercise their dogs off leash on the playing fields, which can result in some unfortunate confrontations between off and on lead dogs and dogs and people. I think more parks that are better tended (less dirty) would help reduce this problem. And many many children from stroller babies to older kids stop at the dog park and enjoy watching the dogs play. I think that allocating space at parks (like Bowdon park where much of the park is not used frequently) would be a great solution.

And for the commenters who referred to this problem as being trivial as compared to the suicides, are you aware that Paly routinely has dogs available on the Quad for the students to pet and enjoy as a stress reliever? Not every family can afford to own a dog or has time to take care of one, but many people (teens especially) love spending time with a dog that gives unconditional affection. My kids have many friends who come to our house and snuggle with our dogs and leave covered in fur (and happiness).

Posted by Stevenson House Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Please move Mitchell Park's Dog park before you expand it!
There are lots of areas closer to E. Meadow without residents having to hear barking and smell the stench of the waste! Even, with my windows closed!
I loved the dog park in Redmond, WA, with a pond and acres. I marvel how well the dogs get along and I love socializing with other owners as well as enjoy the dogs running free. I can't get my grandson's dog, midsize brown&tan, to go in at Mitchell because twice, as we approached the entrance, dogs came running and growling at her. She was too scared and even when I forced her to come in, she just kept by the door and wanted to leave. So, it's not all wonderful, and is really inconsiderate to have it right next to a Senior residence.

Posted by Use your own property for dog feces
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Mar 25, 2016 at 7:47 pm

People will still use Jordan and other school campuses for off-leash toilets, as well as my property for a toilet so this doesn't change anything. Children will still risk stepping and sitting in dog feces at their schools.

Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 25, 2016 at 8:58 pm

I would love to see more dog parks, but let's ban dogs from school playgrounds. Tired of the irresponsible owners who let their dogs off leash and don't clean up after them.

Posted by Lawful owner
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2016 at 8:59 pm

I would only support this if in addition to the larger/additional dog parks there was actual enforcement of our leash laws in places like Jordan, Hoover park, behind Gunn HS. In each of these locations (and more) every day there are large groups that congregate with off leash dogs. I only walk my dog on leash or bring him to one of the existing dog parks. Don't see why these people cant do the same. I sometimes see these owners so busy in their conversation that they don't see when their dog poohs and pick it up. When they run their dogs off leash this also makes it so people walking dogs on leash can not go through the park since encounters of leashed vs off leash dogs can be unpredictable.

As for people who complain about the dirt at the existing dog parks, it is a dog, they get dirty, get over it.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:09 pm

This is an emotionally charged issue for me. For a city filled with so many successful and intelligent people, the frequency of irresponsible behavior of so many dog owners having their dogs crap on sidewalks, other people's lawns, and school property is beyond me. Also, it is very common that these dog owners do not even clean up the mess. Folks, forget about my medical background as a physician, these are feces! So many other communities in the Bay Area have specific signs posting that dogs are not allowed in school property for these health and hygiene reasons. However, in Palo Alto, dogs are allowed to run on school lawns and city parks to relieve their bowels! Have people lost their senses?

Posted by Raj
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Frankly, I have little sympathy and less interest spending $ for more dedicated dog parks unless they are used and there is enforcement with fines for scofflaws. I can't recall being in any city park over the years where there have not been dogs running around off leash ****ing where ever they wish. Sometimes owners pickup, sometimes not. Would dog owners who think picking up after their dog is beneath them mind if people **** in their yards? It's all organic and all that, and you let your dogs do the same where ever they want, fair trade, right?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 25, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Parent is a registered user.

Yes, Raj, the police don't even bother to enforce the off-leash dog law - I've called before. An off-leash large dog ran away with one of our balls and the owner saw no harm (saliva all over our ball). My toddler fell and his hand went into fresh dog feces, and twice, my other children have come home with dog feces on their shoes. Students sit on the Jordan lawn for lunch and there is often dog feces. One morning as everyone was walking to school, someone was letting their dog lay a fresh one on the kindergarten playground. These dog owners think it's all right as long as they pick up the feces. There is still residue on the lawn. They should pick up the feces with their bare hands if they think there's no harm.

The city ought to post signs restricting dogs on school campuses. There was a child who was bitten at an elementary school and the principal still allowed dogs on campus. The danger to children's health is obvious. All we need is a child to get seriously hurt and someone to sue the city. Otherwise, restricting dogs from school campuses is a lost cause.

Posted by Both
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2016 at 8:48 am

As a parent and dog lover it seems the best of both worlds to expand fenced dog park space AND stop allowing off leash dogs on school property. My personal request is to allow leashed dogs on the outskirts of sports fields. There are only so many hours In a day and walking my dog while picking up kids from sports is the only way to do both.

Posted by a dog lover
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 26, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Dog Parks are essential for dogs and owners, granted not all dogs are appropriate candidates, but for most, parks are important sources of exercise and stress relief. I take my dog to Mitchell Park. I have never been aware of dog deposits on the ground nor any unacceptable smells. Granted, barking does occur, but it does not seem to represent a constant annoyance.
There should be some consideration given to the construction of any new parks, Dog Parks should be divided into two sections, one for large and one for small dogs. This is to prevent injuries; not too long ago a little dog was killed by a bigger dog at Mitchell Park. No one wants to witness something so horrible and tragic. Dogs should not be on school grounds or parks unless closely monitored and owners are equipped and use doggy bags.

I know there any lax owners out there, someone in my own neighborhood does not comply, as quite regularly I find a mess on my own lawn, irritating to say the least. If all of us as dog owners would take the pledge to be responsible dog owners, the plea for more dog parks might be a better sell to the public. We sure do need them!!!
BTW, what happened to the proposed plan for a dog park at the new EL CAMINO Park?

Posted by PAmom
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 26, 2016 at 1:01 pm

I think there needs to be more parks in general...during the summer the parks area always packed with tons of children, visitors, camps and sports. For my younger children this poses a challenge sometimes. I think for every x amount of square footage built in this town there needs to be an X amount of green space provided...or the developers need to be taxed or forced to make a contribution to updating and maintaining our parks, dog parks and urban gardens. Since land is small here (we have a very small yard so we frequent parks) there needs to be more parks available especially since the weather is nice and this is an outdoor community.

Posted by Dog adorer - but...
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 26, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Whoever wrote that stench @ Mitchell Park was negligible has never walked past the dog park, especially on sunshiny days. Summer is hold your nose time.
And the smell carries up to the Senior residences on the South side of the park.
Move it! and put the it where there's shade so the refuse bins don't bake and reek.

Posted by Unhealthy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2016 at 7:34 am

Unhealthy is a registered user.

Whenever my dog gets sick, my veterinarian asks if I have taken her to a dog park recently.

He says that dogs catch fleas, ticks, fungal infections, and worms from dog parks.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Lots of helpful perspectives from the community posts. Based on the feedback, there might be a like a simple solution on hand here. Can the dog owners explain why their dogs cannot be trained to defecate and urinate in their own yard? I know several dog owners, because they are very respectful of others, who have taken this specific approach. These dogs enjoy fresh air, no risk of catching fleas, ticks, and worms from other dogs, no getting harassed by other dogs, and there are no piles of dog crap left on sidewalks, other people's lawns, and school yards for kids and other people to step into or catch disease from. The city can then use the money and resources for a different need for the community.

Posted by Wag
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2016 at 1:45 pm

"Whoever wrote that stench @ Mitchell Park was negligible has never walked past the dog park, especially on sunshiny days. Summer is hold your nose time."

A major benefit of dog parks is that somebody else cleans up after my dog.

Posted by Why Use a Dog Park
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 28, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Why Use a Dog Park is a registered user.

@Joe -- I bring my dog to a dog park all the time, and it has nothing to do with peeing and pooing. She goes there to socialize and get exercise, which is really important for dogs, and dog safety, and ergo for people (all of us). I don't know how to keep a healthy, happy dog without the benefit of such exercise and socialization.

For the record, she pees and poos all the time in our yard. It is no big deal at all.

Posted by Weird stuff
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

The same people who are grossed out at a baby's soiled diaper, or God forbid, less than perfect coffee, are willing to spend so much time and energy dealing with dog excrement. Or to leave it for others to clean up.

Go figure.

Posted by Dog Owner
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Yes on more fenced in, designated dog parks! My dog loves them. If I can't get him to the dogpark, I put him on a leash, and take him for a jog.

And yes on enforcing off-leash laws! I am so tired of seeing dogs running around off-leash at Jordan and other schools, ESPECIALLY when the fields are clearly in use by lots of kids playing baseball, running track, playing soccer, etc.

Recently, one of the little girls playing soccer at Jordan was attacked by a large dog. The number of dogs running around off-leash there is ridiculous.

Dogs should be leashed and under control when around kids at schools and parks.

Posted by yuck
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 28, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Please don't put in a dog park at Pardee Park. Stench, dogfights, yelping/barking will worsen quality of life in this nice residential area.
Please use your own yard for your dog to go to the bathroom. School grounds and other peoples' lawns/yards are not OK to use. We're tired of dealing with your yucky waste.

Posted by Polly Wanacracker
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2016 at 4:48 pm

"[people] are willing to spend so much time and energy dealing with dog excrement."

One might wonder which is the higher form of life--the dog or the human that serves the dog.

Posted by KB
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2016 at 9:54 pm

I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong hills. I tried to convince local elders to send their children to school to read. An elder came to me with magazine photos of an American dog walker picking up and carrying dog excrement. The elder said "These people can read. What good has it done them?"

Posted by sanmateo
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2016 at 9:31 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by @Polly and KB
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 30, 2016 at 1:17 pm

The human is serving the human, not the dog. The dog doesn't care one bit about his poop so picking it up has nothing to do with serving the dog and everything to do with serving the human who "Learned to read" about germs and disease avoidance.

I'm all in favor of a fenced dog park(open off leash parks can be intrusive and dangerous to others), but really the issues people are complaining most about are because of a lack of enforcement.

Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2016 at 1:38 pm

The problem isn't lack of enforcement, is lack of character and responsibility.

Posted by Paloaltogirl
a resident of University South
on Mar 30, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Wow, sounds like these folks can't take yes for an answer! First they complain about dogs off leash at parks (and the amount of dog poo left behind is greatly exaggerated--when I was a kid here in PA, no one picked up dog poo and there was no industry in dog poo bags!) and now when dedicated dog spaces are being proposed, it's NIMBY! Come on folks, there are a lot of people living here and we all have to get along. No one gets it all their way.

Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Mar 30, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Paloaltogirl is wrong. There are a lot more dog walkers now. I grew up here since 1974. Perhaps people were more polite back in the day and didn't take their dogs to schools because we almost never encountered poo on our playgrounds compared to now. "We all have to get along"? Dog poo on our properties is trespassing. Dog poo on our shoes is vandalism. Dog poo on our hands and clothes is a serious health hazard for E. coli. Why should dogs have more rights than humans? When other people's behavior begins infringing on the general public, rules need to be made.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Yes dog poo is terrible. So is chewing gum. Can we ban that too please. I have had to throw shoes out before now because of dog poo and gum.

Posted by parent
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 30, 2016 at 6:13 pm

These comments about having your kid step on chewing gum being equivalent to have your kid step in dog crap is why parents of children have no sympathy for irresponsible dog owners. I'm sure that some dog owners are responsible and clean up after their pets, even on sidewalks or school grounds. The rest of the dog owners are why parents are resisting the spread of off-leash dogs in this city. I have never seen a dog owner clean up after an off-leash dog, even in areas where off-leash dogs are banned.

Posted by Paloaltogirl
a resident of University South
on Mar 30, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Actually, you're wrong--schools were the places we all took our dogs to play off leash. And I've lived here since 1958. But you and Parent below are (deliberately?) missing the point of my post: if you don't want to share playgrounds and parks with off leash dogs, then you should be supporting the plan to create more dedicated dog parks. When you and others here protest the reasonable plan to set aside park space for the use of the dog owning portion of the public, you are disrespectful of our rights. This is a solution to the problem, not an exacerbation of it.

Posted by Use your own property for dog feces
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Mar 30, 2016 at 10:01 pm


People aren't protesting the creation of a new dog park, they are merely stating that it won't make a difference - people will still allow their dogs to leave feces on private property and school campuses. If owners are leaving feces at those places, do you really think they will have the thoughtfulness to take their dogs to a dog park instead? No, they'll likely complain it's too far from their house.

Posted by Anurag
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 30, 2016 at 10:41 pm

Anurag is a registered user.

Kudos to the Parks and Recreation Committee, the Community Services Department and Darren Anderson for putting together this excellent proposal.

Fenced off-leash dog areas have worked very well in the communities I have previously been a part of. They allow both dog owners/lovers and those who want to have nothing to do with dogs to use parks in ways that fits their desires/needs best. Dog owners & dog lovers stay on one side of the fence and those who want to have nothing to do with dogs on the other side. Fenced dog parks avoid the complications that arise when a common space is used by both groups.

Local dog parks, just like any other group activity for near-by residents, help build a sense of community. Much like meeting spaces, community centers, playgrounds, yoga classes, farmers' markets, block parties etc. For many of us living in Palo Alto, most of our activities - work and leisure - are elsewhere. It is local gathering opportunities like this that help bind us as a community. For myself, I have got to know way many more neighbors while walking my dog every day than via any other activity. Neighbors who normally would quickly walk by in their busy life, take moment, pat the dog, talk for a while.

Posted by Paloaltogirl
a resident of University South
on Mar 31, 2016 at 10:06 am

Thank you for your excellent and rational comments in support of off-leash dog parks. Once established, they will definitely meet the needs of a significant number of of citizens.
Have you read the entire comment thread? Many are in fact, protesting the establishment of neighborhood dog parks. Moreover, I simply cannot take your comments seriously. I am a dog owner, as are most of my friends and neighbors, and we all reliably pick up our dogs' poop. Furthermore, I am a property owner, in an area close to downtown that is more densely populated than other parts of the city. There are many dogs, and even paid dog walkers in this part of town, yet I have never seen the mountains of poop that I would expect given your predictions. In fact, in the 24 years I have lived in this neighborhood, I have had dog poop left on my property once--and I am on a corner lot, with double the exposure to potential leavings. I am fairly close to a school, and I do get a lot of snack wrappers and chip bags in my front yard. But that is a topic for another thread.

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