City Council: Keep Your Dog On A Leash

Do you think it's appropriate to have off-leash dog hours in the evening in Washington Park?

Dogs in Washington Park no longer have evenings for off-leash activities.

Back in August, the City Council granted a trial period of off-leash dog hours at Washington Park from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. However, the City Council this week rejected making the extension permanent.

“I don’t want to be turning Washington Park into a dog park,” said Vice Mayor Ann Keighran. “I am always very concerned about the safety of the people in Washington Park, especially Washington Park because there are a lot of kids.”

Mayor Jerry Deal and Councilmember Cathy Baylock joined Keighran in her disapproval of extending dog off-leash hours at the park, Baylock echoing her safety concerns.

During the six-month trial period, staff on both the Parks and Recreation sides of the Parks and Recreation Department received no complaints about dogs off leash. There was one citation, one warning and two calls to police over the period of time.

However, those facts failed to negate the issues of safety and comfort with off-leash dogs.

“The safety issue is my main concern,” said Baylock. “A lot of people do not know how to deal with a dog off leash if they’re not dog people.”

This conversation raised a larger issue: the lack of a satisfactory dog park in Burlingame. Deal said he would first like to see a bona fide dog park, and Councilmember Terry Nagel suggested building one of the west side of Burlingame.Councilmembers reported complaints about the current dog park  at Bayside Park, as well as recommendations from residents on how to make the park better.

“There’s a lot of things we could do to make that park worth going to,” said Baylock. “I think that would be the appropriate place to start.”


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Dogbert March 21, 2012 at 05:18 PM
"During the six-month trial period, staff on both the Parks and Recreation sides of the Parks and Recreation Department received no complaints about dogs off leash." What exactly was City Council looking for in the trial period that would have allowed its continuance? Perhaps they were expecting the dogs to don fluorescent vests and initiate public works projects at Washington Park. Looks like Council was counting on there being lots of complaints in order to justify this obvious predetermined outcome. Sure is inconvenient that the dogs behaved so well... BTW, to the safety conscious members of our esteemed City Council, there are countless examples of off-leash dog parks where children/adults/families all comingle quite safely with our best friends sans leash, e.g., S.F.'s Fort Funston, Crissy Field, Stern Grove, Ocean Beach and, of course, Carmel's fabulous City Beach. And this has been going on for many, many years with almost no incidence. So the Peninsula retains its well deserved reputation as "the most dog unfriendliest place on earth". Thanks for nothing, City Council!
Poodleskirt March 22, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I think you have missed the poont entirely. Washington Park is not a good park for dogs. Simply google "dog park design" and you will find that Washington Park possesses zero of the fundamental needs that dogs have in park like settings. The council was right in their decision to look at providing a real dog park rather than a park that is simply convenient for the dog owners.
skip March 22, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I also agree with the council's decision. We have brought our small children to the park during leash-regulated hours specifically to avoid off-leash dogs, and have had dogs off-leash during "leashed" hours and scared or (gently) knocked down our children. We didn't report the incident since it was minor, but was irritated about it, and I'm sure there are others like us who didn't report incidences and annoyances either. Even when the owner knows the dog is friendly and have full confidence that they will not hurt children, it's very scary for a 12mo old when a medium-sized dog rushes up to them and tries to lick their face. I love dogs, but a playground really should be a place where parents can bring young children without having to worry about fending off-leash dogs off their children, albeit friendly. I do understand that the owners know that their dogs are friendly, etc, but children and parents do not know that about stranger's dogs. And if there are enough dog owners who let the dogs walk off-leash when they aren't supposed to, I can imagine in future, more owners will start ignoring the on/off leash hours making it even harder for parents with small children to avoid off-leash dogs. Washington just isn't appropriate for off-leash dogs, because of the well-attended playground. I feel for the dog owners who want to allow their dogs run free, but unfortunately in an urban setting, leashing the dog is a limitation one will have to abide by when living in a city.
skip March 22, 2012 at 06:09 PM
One thing to note. None of the locations you mentioned (Fort Funston, Crissy Field, Ocean Beach, etc) have any play structures, specifically designated as a playground for children. They are all big, wide open spaces, not like Washington park that is densely forested with high density of children playing. And when we go there, there are many newborns and toddlers who are just learning to walk playing in the playground, not just the older children. Even a small-sized dog can easily knock down the toddlers inadvertently (and they have), even if the intention was friendly. And it only takes a split second for a dog to make a friendly beeline and scare the bezeesus out of the parents of newborns and toddlers. The city decided to disallow off-leash presence of dogs BECAUSE of the fact that the park has a playground, with play structures very heavily frequented by many families with very young children. And it's one of the more popular playgrounds in the city. there is a good-sized dog park in Burlingame (off Airport Blvd), and also a big one off 3rd Avenue in San Mateo. I think it's a bit of an extremist statement to say the Peninsula is the "most dog unfriendliest" just because the dog owners can't allow their dogs run off-leash in a high-children/baby populated area. I call the council's decision prudent. Washington Park is just not appropriate for off-leash dogs.
Dogbert March 22, 2012 at 10:58 PM
"None of the locations you mentioned (Fort Funston, Crissy Field, Ocean Beach, etc) have any play structures..." Nice try, Len. I did mention Stern Grove. Plenty of play structures there. Conveniently, you left that one out in order to try and make your point. You have now lost all credibility with me. "The city decided to disallow off-leash presence of dogs BECAUSE of the fact that the park has a playground, with play structures very heavily frequented by many families with very young children...Washington just isn't appropriate for off-leash dogs, because of the well-attended playground." So why did they initiate the "trial" in the first place? Certainly they were aware of the children and the play structures and the usage patterns. Gee, do you think the implementation of timed usage had anything to do with their concerns? Every park has children at play. You people are selfish and unwilling to share limited open space resources with the forty percent of Burlingame households who own at least one dog. To those people it is important that they provide adequate exercise and socialization for their family pet in order to provide for their health and well-being. To many of these people their pet is very much one of their children. You people offer nothing except, like Poodleskirt, "look at providing a real dog park rather than a park that is simply convenient for the dog owners." So what locations exactly do you have in mind where children and NIMBYs aren't an issue?
Frances Morgan March 22, 2012 at 11:55 PM
As a parent, I'd rather see a fence around the children's play area to keep the children safe. If a stranger came into a fence playground without a child, all the adults would go on alert. Parks, especially in the evenings, are much safer with dogs around because people who are up to no good don't hang out when dogs are there.
jdh March 23, 2012 at 01:57 AM
If there were no complaints or problems, it doesn't seem reasonable to discontinue this program. There are just as many folks with dogs as there are with children, many families with both, and it seems entirely reasonable to offer an off-leash area for families with dogs to enjoy. Off-leash recreation is very valuable to families with dogs, both for dog recreation and behavior, and "dog parks" (small fenced areas) cannot be compared to open off-leash areas that are much better for dogs from a behavior standpoint. With such a limited time for off-leash recreation, it seems pretty fair that if a small number of people have a problem with off-leash dogs (and it does seem like a small number if there were no complaints!) then they could adjust their schedules or where they visit just like the majority of dog families have to do already most of the time. If my tax dollars go towards building and maintaining play structures for families with children - something I have no use for - why can't a dog family have a specific hour at a specific park to take their dog to run, exercise, and play too?
a March 23, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Modern day breeding parents need to rub some dirt in it! You'd think the human species was a fragile and delicate flower. Share the pubilc space with those that have chosen not to breed and further tax the earths precious resources. Fence in the humans and let the dogs run free. That a super idea @Frances Morgan!
Jan Scott March 24, 2012 at 01:25 AM
I do not live in Burlingame, but I think it is a shame that the city removed the off leash dog walking in Washington Park without any particular reason. Dogs off leash were only allowed there for 1 and 1/2 hours per day. If people dislike dogs, surely they could avoid that small time period. Also, I think the idea as stated in the article that dogs are dangerous to children is rather ridiculous. A city park is for everyone to share and dogs are an important part of family life for many. Proper behavior for all of us, humans and dogs, should be emphasized.
Marx March 26, 2012 at 04:54 PM
If there were no complaints and no problems with safety, why did they discontinue the dog park? It's nice that the council wants to build a dog park, but where will the dogs go in the mean time? Dogs and children go together quite beautifully and naturally in park settings. They should continue the dog park there at least til the dog park is built.
Miriam Finder (Editor) March 26, 2012 at 06:06 PM
To clarify, Burlingame does have a dog park at 1125 Airport Boulevard near Bayside Park. However, there have been complaints about the current park and requests for upgrades or a completely new dog park.
Resident since 1996 April 15, 2012 at 05:36 PM
It's ashame that we cannot make upgrades to the park so that both dogs and children can use it. In Orange Memorial Park in SSF, they have both a dog park that is fenced in as well as a children's play structure within walking distance. This allows families with both dogs and children to use the park. As for the current dog park at Airport Blvd, it is probably the worst dog park around. It is desolate and smells really bad from the water treatment plant near by. We never see any dogs there. We have both a dog and kids and it would be great to have the entire family be able to use the same park.
Resident since 1996 April 17, 2012 at 05:42 AM
I forgot to mention that we have to drive to Foster City to use their dog park when we want our dog to run around freely. They have a beautiful dog park with an area for smaller dogs and an area for larger dogs. They use artificial turf.
j.m. April 19, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Actually Chrissy Field is full of dog poo, and pretty unusable for families. Poor example.
Tanya April 20, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I have kids who play in that park and I've never seen a problem with the dogs there. Burlingame is becoming way too much like a giant HOA.


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