Beverly Hills News – Dog Park Gets One Step Closer With Marathon Commission Meeting
Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 – 10:24 PM
By Victoria Talbot
The Beverly Hills Dog Park began to take shape Tuesday in a marathon session of the Recreation and Parks Commission that began at the proposed site and ended with a 4-hour session to hash out details that will be presented to the City Council in the near future.
Following direction from the City Council, the RPC met at City Hall to be shuttled to the site. However, the shuttle did not materialize. Undeterred, the group either walked or drove to the site at the corner of Alden Drive and Foothill Road shortly after 9 a.m., meeting about fifty enthusiastic dog-lovers and dogs, and some congregants of the local synagogues, who were not so enthusiastic.
Assistant Director of Community Services Nancy Hunt Coffey pointed out the perimeter of the site and sketched out some proposals for development. Then the group reconvened at City Hall to commence with the meeting.
Several issues were discussed about the details of the proposed park, against the backdrop of a small, but vocal group of synagogues and congregants who oppose having a dog park in the neighborhood.
Following public comment, the Recreation and Parks Commission committed themselves to settling the issues at hand and stayed, with a few breaks, until about 4:30 p.m. to at least discuss each issue, and to vote on many of them.
Councilmember Lili Bosse stayed throughout and was joined by Vice Mayor John Mirisch during the meeting.
Items which were voted on included:
Residents/Non-Residents Use of the Park: The Commission voted 3-1 in favor of residents-only, those who have businesses in Beverly Hills or work within the City, and hotel guests. Users would have to show proof of vaccinations, licensing; obtain a Beverly Hills permit or dog tag. Commissioner Howard Rosoff felt all should be welcomed.
Licensing – The Commission voted 4-0 that all dogs using the park must be licensed. Licensing requires that dogs show proof of vaccination and spay/neuter.
Number of Dogs Per User – The Commission voted 4-0 in favor of a maximum of three dogs, the maximum allowed per household.
Number of Dogs Allowed in the Park at One Time – The Commission voted 4-0 for a total of 40 dogs in the park at any time, with 20 dogs each in the small dog and large dog enclosures.
Restriction of Certain Breeds of Dogs – The Commission voted 4-0 not to restrict any dog breeds from the park.
Minimum Age Requirement – The Commission voted 4-0 that children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult
Design Components include a double-gated entry, surface material excluding grass, dirt and wood chips: preferring decomposed granite and exploring artificial turf.
Restrooms – The Commission voted 3-1 to use “porta-potties” with one each in the small and large dog parks. Vice Chair Frances Bilak dissented and felt no potties should be allowed to discourage loitering.
Park Amenities – Should include shade and poop-bags; the staff was instructed to report on the use of Closed Circuit TV to monitor activities, and the proposal by RTK Architects to place a bench inside the double-gated entry was rejected.
Park Hours – The Commission voted 3-1 that the park will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. with Bilak dissenting.
Rules – The Commission voted to adopt rules that include excluding aggressive dogs. If aggression occurs the owners must exchange ID tags and contact information, as in LA County parks.
Fees – The Commission voted 4-0 that park usage should be free of charge, but that they would allow for “Friends of the Dog Park” donations, and instructed staff to explore the use of an electronically keyed entry.
The Commission responded with deference to complaints from the synagogues and to points made in a letter from Rabbi Pina Dunner. The results were:
–Point of entry to be changed to the Foothill side of the park to mitigate contact with congregants on Alden
–A pathway for pedestrians will be separated from a pathway for dogs on the street in the design phase of the park
–Small and Large dogs will be divided; the small dog section is furthest from the temple for sound mitigation
Rosoff added that his conversations with a Chabad Rabbi showed that they had erroneously assumed that the dog park boundaries would encompass the area directly across from the synagogue – which is not the case. The proposed dog park only occupies a small quadrant of the larger property to the southwest of the Temple.
–The Commission will recommend that the City provide extra staffing at the onset during Shabbat and the High Holidays when most congregants will be walking to Temple. Staff was instructed to reach out to the administration to define high-traffic hours during worship times.
–The Commission did not feel that there should be a “Sunset Clause” after 12 months that would close the park if there were problems. Rather, they felt that the park’s progress would be closely monitored throughout the year, and that tweaks could be made in the open forum of the Commission as issues may arise.
The Commission will again meet on September 29 to discuss design concepts with RTK. The goal is to send their recommendations to City Council by October.
City Council must still approve the Mitigated Negative Declaration that underwent a public comment period August 1-20. If that is accepted, and when these recommendations are hashed out, if the Council approves the plans, the City must first perform remediation on the property for the arsenic in the soil.
That would consist of removing the top layer of soil, putting a barrier in place, adding fresh, uncontaminated soil on top, and placing a surface barrier (i.e. decomposed granite) on top.
Arsenic does not move within the soil, nor does it seep into ground water. Arsenic is only toxic if ingested, which would require one to eat the soil. Once remediated, it would be stabilized for this use. A certain level of arsenic naturally occurs in the soil in California; the level is higher due to historic usage of the property.